Wednesday, May 31, 2006

On gays, not, despite your most deeply-held fears, settlin' down

Okay, so in light of the recent finding by a Superior Court judge that Georgia's gay marriage amendment is unconstitutional, and the subsequent Supreme Court review of said ruling, Guv'nor Sonny has promised to call a special session of the General Assembly starting August 9 should the ban not be upheld.

Now, said special session could cost Georgia taxpayers up to $40,000 a day, but it would be worth every penny to protect us from the all-powerful scourge of Gays Settlin' Down, which threatens our lives and livelihoods and heterosexual marriage as we know it.

Except that it really doesn't.

And except that gay marriage is illegal in Georgia whether or not the amendment passes.

There is no imminent threat here. Gays aren't going to start sponteneously planning their dream June weddings now that homophobia is no longer officially enshrined in the state Constitution. The people's right to establish legislation through legal, constitutional channels is not at risk. And for Sonny to imply otherwise is, at best, a cheap ploy to satisfy his Republican base in preparation for the gubernatorial election.

Or, at $40,000 a day, not so cheap.

What really bugs is that all of this was foretold back in 2004. Constitutional scholars and experts predicted that the violation of the single-subject rule would have us arguing the constitutionality of the amendment for years after its passage (true). Many also speculated that the single-subject violation was deliberate (arguable); supporters of the amendment feared that,left to their own devices, even opponents to gay marriage might be willing to support civil unions. By combining the two issues in one amendment, legislators made a bet that Georgia voters hated gay marriage more than they liked civil union and would be willing to throw out a baby or two with the bathwater.

And that's what's got Sonny's panties in a wad right now. He's afraid that, given the opportunity to give gays some basic partnership rights without actually calling it marriage in so many words, Georgia voters will choose tolerance over homophobia. While I can't speak to Sonny's personal views on gay rights, I know that his brick-red fundamentalist Republican supporters need a hard line on this so they can convince their supporters that sodomites aren't going to be treated like human beings in the great state of Georgia, not while they draw breath.

Guv'nor Sonny wants to make sure that the will of the people is respected in Georgia. I happen to agree. I personally can't wait to see what voters say when they're offered a reasonable, acceptable compromise instead of far-right-wing political pandering. But the world isn't going to come to a crashing end if we have to wait a year to see that happen, and it doesn't have to happen at the cost of $40,000 a day.

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