Monday, April 05, 2004

Georgia on My Mind

I'm distressed that the state of Georgia has passed through the legislature a state constitutional amendment against gay marriage. The amendment goes to the voters in November. Georgia is already a DOMA state, so here is yet another case of trying to make gay marriage more illegal than it already is. Advocates for these amendments say it's necessary because the DOMA laws may get struck down in court cases. But isn't that what the court system is for? If the law should stand, then won't the courts uphold it?

I lived in Georgia for six great years. And while I realize Georgia is a Southern state, I'm very disappointed. I always felt that Georgia was one of the more progressive Southern states. Georgia holds the great city of Atlanta, which is heavily populated by gays and lesbians. Atlanta is the Southern mecca for queers. Miami doesn't count because Florida is just a Northern state that got lost. Still among the gay residents of Atlanta is my partner. We're carrying on a long distance relationship since I have a job in North Carolina. And although we're trying to arrange things so we are eventually in the same city at the same time, I also have family in Georgia that I visit often.

Georgia played some significant roles in the black civil rights movement, and Atlanta is the final resting place of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I would have hoped that the lessons and struggles of that movement would have sensitized the citizens of this great state to issues of discrimination. However, many in the black community support this amendment as well, due to the highly religious nature of Southern (and American) black culture.

Cynthia Tucker, a woman of color, and one of my favorite editors of the Atlanta Journal Constitution makes this same point in an article with as she denounces black America's "knee jerk hostility towards gays." You can read Ms. Tucker's article here. I will at some point write an article parallelling and actually differentiating gay and black civil rights struggles, but I won't address that here.

I'm certainly not laying blame at the feet of black Georgians. And despite Atlanta's fairly progressive attitudes and policies towards gays, there has been plenty of discrimination for years from various quarters. Still, I never thought the Georgia legislature, seated in the center of Atlanta, would pass such a resolution.

It's painful to me to think that should my partner and I legally become husbands one day that while visiting Georgia, our rights and privledges could be stripped away. It's upsetting to think that if one of us were injured while travelling visiting my parents or just going back to Atlanta to play, we could be denied seeing each other. I can imagine worse than that even.

Even though I am in another state now, I will mobilize as much support as I can for people to vote against this hateful piece of legislation. I pray that the gay community in Georgia will rise up against this measure and soundly defeat it along with our straight allies. Then, I hope they vote every politician that supported this amendment out of office. Georgians, do what is right. Lead the way. In the 1960's, an NBC program said that Atlanta was an example to Southern cities in regards to civil rights. I hope that same sense of morality prevails in the 2000's.

Until these things are done, I'm afraid the state anthem rings truer than ever: "No peace I find / with that old sweet song / Georgia on my mind."

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