ATLANTA (BP)–Georgia’s House of Representatives passed a state constitutional marriage amendment March 31, sending the issue to voters this fall.
The bill passed 122-52, just two more than the 120 votes required for approval of a constitutional amendment. In February the bill failed in the House when it received only 117 votes, although around a dozen members didn’t vote. It had already passed the Senate.
Georgia is the second state this year to send a constitutional marriage amendment to voters. Utah is the other, and several other states may follow.
“We cannot let judges in Boston, or officials in San Francisco, define marriage for the people of Georgia,” Rep. Bill Hembree, a Republican, said, according to The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Georgia has a law banning same-sex “marriage,” although traditionalists want an amendment that would prevent Georgia’s state court from doing what Massachusetts’ court did. Massachusetts has no ban against same-sex “marriage.”
The vote was a loss for homosexual activists as well as for members of the House Legislative Black Caucus who had strategized to defeat the bill — much to the consternation of many black religious leaders. In the end, four black House members broke ranks, guaranteeing passage.
Some 30 black religious leaders had signed a letter to Georgia legislators, stating in part, “If you will not vote to defend the sanctity of marriage, you have forfeited your right to serve in our state because you certainly do not represent the people who elected you.”
Black Caucus member Randal Mangham, a Democrat, voted for the amendment.
“We shouldn’t have to explain to 6-, 7- and 8-year-olds why men are kissing each other,” Mangham said, according to the Atlanta paper. “I don’t like having to explain that to my kids. I will continue to support their [homosexuals’] right to do what they do, but they will not have the sanctity of marriage.”
For more information about the debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit