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Tuesday, August 4, 2009 - 7:06am

Gay Leader in Georgia Passes Away

Allen Thornell, a longtime Georgia gay political activist and volunteer, died Tuesday morning of complications from a stroke suffered yesterday. He was 38.

According to reporting from the Southern Voice staff, Thornell was employed as director of strategic communications at CARE, an international non-profit based in Atlanta that works to end global poverty. He also held the role of executive director of Georgia Equality from May 2002 to April 2004. At the time of his passing, he was serving as chair of the statewide LGBT political group's board of directors.

With Georgia Equality, Thornell successfully lobbied for domestic partner benefits for Fulton County employees. He also led the fight in the state legislature against the 2004 state constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Even though the measure eventually passed, Thornell is given credit for helping to stall the amendment’s passage until a second vote.

Though that measure ultimately passed, Thornell is widely credited with helping to bog down the measure in the state House before it was approved on a second vote.

Thornell had three open-heart surgeries in the past.

Thornell made a run for the Georgia General Assembly’s District 58 seat but lost in 2006 in a run-off.

Democratic Party of Georgia Chair Jane Kidd released the following statement concerning Thornell's passing.

"Georgia Democrats lost a good friend in Allen Thornell. His contributions to creating a more compassionate, fair, and equitable state for all Georgians are well-known, and the void left by his passing will not be easily filled. Today, our thoughts and prayers are with Allen's partner, Chad, his family and friends, and all of those with whom he came into contact over his years working for the betterment of his community."

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