Openly gay Georgia lawmakers warn of potential rollback of marriage equality
ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) - LGBTQ rights are top of mind for some Georgia Democrats who worry that the conservative-leaning U.S. Supreme Court could send decisions about same-sex marriage back to the states, as the court did with abortion.
Three openly gay Georgia lawmakers held a news conference at the state capitol Monday, urging voters concerned about LGBTQ rights to reject Republican Gov. Brian Kemp in the upcoming election.
“If he has the opportunity, Brian Kemp will not hesitate to roll back the progress we’ve made to assure equal protection for all Georgians,” said State Rep. Sam Park, a Lawrenceville Democrat.
Kemp recently commented publicly that he personally believes marriage is between a man and a woman. That comment, the lawmakers say, shows that he’s at odds with the Episcopal church of which he’s a member – a church that has evolved over the years when it comes to same-sex marriages.
“Brian Kemp’s Episcopal church changed their minds and allowed me to go forward as an Episcopal priest in order for me to be able to marry my own wife,” said State Sen. Kim Jackson, a Democrat from Stone Mountain.
“We’re not going to go back into the shadows,” said State Rep. Karla Drenner, a Democrat from Avondale States, the first openly gay state senator in the South.
When asked if there should be an amendment to Georgia’s Constitution, which currently states that marriage is between a man and a woman, Drenner answered, “All of the groups are going to be nervous that I’ve said this, but I do think it should go on the ballot.”
For that to happen, it would take a two-thirds majority of lawmakers, meaning Democrats would need extraordinary wins in Georgia in November.
CBS46 reached out to Kemp’s office for a reaction and got the following response:
“Governor Kemp’s personal position on same-sex marriage has not changed, but this issue has been settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.”
For more context, please see the below excerpts from the Supreme Court’s Dobbs Decision:
The U.S. Supreme Court’s majority ruling declares that Dobbs does not alter or imply a change in the court’s thinking when it comes to the Obergefell decision. The majority opinion states, verbatim: “And to ensure that our decision is not misunderstood or mischaracterized, we emphasize that our decision concerns the constitutional right to abortion and no other right. Nothing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.” (pg. 66). The majority opinion reiterates this point in multiple other places, including on pg. 71: “Finally, the dissent suggests that our decision calls into question Griswold, Eisenstadt, Lawrence, and Obergefell. Post, at 4–5, 26–27, n. 8. But we have stated unequivocally that ‘[n]othing in this opinion should be understood to cast doubt on precedents that do not concern abortion.’
Watch Monday’s news conference:
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