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15 January 2014

The Time has Come: Repeal Georgia's Gay Marriage Amendment

"What business does government have saying who should wed who?"

Those are the words of the late state Representative Bobby Franklin (R - Marietta), and they still ring true today.

Instead of having a federal judge order the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to everyone, the Georgia General Assembly can say we are returning to our conservative principles and willingly repealing the state's gay marriage ban.

There is still time to do that. There is still time to make that bold move, and send shock waves throughout the nation.
Ten years ago this November, Georgia voters approved an amendment to the state Constitution that defined marriage as the union of one man and one woman.

As an intern at the State Capitol, in 2004, I was an eyewitness to the same-sex marriage debate under the Gold Dome. I heard all the arguments from both sides of the issue; and my opinion then is the same as it is now.

Government should not be in the marriage business.

Marriage is defined as, "a legally, religiously, or socially sanctioned union of persons who commit to one another, forming a familial and economic bond."

Years ago, government erred when it began recognizing certain religiously, or socially sanctioned unions of persons as legal, while at the same time disregarding others. Government erred when it started granting public benefits to one private union of two individuals, while at the same time declaring that another private union of individuals would receive nothing. That government error helped create a special class of people, and it created inequality under the law.

Equality under the law means everyone must be treated equally before the law regardless of their race, gender, gender identity, national origin, color, ethnicity, religion, disability or other characteristics, without privilege, discrimination, or bias. When government chooses to recognize one marriage, but not another, government is giving one class of people a privilege that is not being extended to all others.

In order to maintain equality under the law, government needs to either recognize everyone's marriage or recognize no one's marriage. I've been a proponent of the latter for quite some time now, but I'm not holding my breath expecting lawmakers to suddenly repeal all marriage laws across the country.

Absent a complete withdrawal from the marriage business, the only position left for government to take is complete recognition of everyone's marriage.

The basic tenets of conservative thought is less government, lower taxes, more freedom. In other words, a true conservative would not use government as a vehicle to impose the moral standards of one individual upon another. Ten years ago, government was used to impose the moral standard that marriage is the union of one man and one woman upon the citizens of Georgia. That was one of the most anti-conservative acts ever taken by the Georgia General Assembly due to the fact that it used government to restrict the freedom of law-abiding citizens.

Now we are seeing federal judges, in so-called conservative states, strike down government-sanctioned moral standards similar to the one enacted by Georgia lawmakers ten years ago.

Utah's gay marriage ban was struck down. Oklahoma's gay marriage ban was struck down. Could Georgia be next? It is difficult to tell. But Georgia can avoid the acrimony and legal costs associated with lawsuits challenging its gay marriage ban by simply repealing it.

Instead of having a federal judge order the state to begin issuing marriage licenses to everyone, the Georgia General Assembly can say we are returning to our conservative principles and willingly repealing the state's gay marriage ban.

There is still time to do that. There is still time to make that bold move, and send shock waves throughout the nation. The 2014 legislation session just started its work, and I challenge any conservative lawmaker --Republican or Democrat-- to introduce a resolution repealing Georgia's gay marriage amendment.