Joan Garner, the first openly gay Fulton County Commissioner and former Lambda Legal board member, passed away yesterday, after a long battle with breast cancer.
Simone Bell, Lambda Legal Southern Regional Director, issued the following statement:
"Lambda Legal is heartbroken at the news of Joan Garner’s passing. She was a dedicated member of Lambda Legal’s board and a dear friend to many.
“This is a sad loss for the city of Atlanta and Fulton County. Our hearts go out to all who knew her and were touched by her loving spirit. Joan was a trailblazer in our movement for equality in Georgia and across the South. In her work with many organizations and communities, including being a founding Member of SONG (Southerners On New Ground), she served as a mentor to me and countless others who wanted to devote their lives to justice.
“When I met Joan Garner when I was nineteen, she was doing what she would continue to do until the end—standing up for the rights of the most vulnerable. She is a woman who never stopped fighting for social justice. Joan was fearless, compassionate and gifted.
“Joan was part of the Lambda Legal family. In addition to being a member of Lambda Legal’s National Board from 1996-1998, she was a longtime Liberty Circle member, and her wife, Fulton County State Court Judge Jane Morrison, was also the founding director of the Lambda Legal Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.
"Our thoughts and condolences are with Jane, her family and loved ones. We have lost a community leader, colleague and friend. We will honor her memory by continuing to work for equality. It is what she asked of us."