ATLANTA The rallying efforts of the black clergymen in Georgia paid off on Wednesday, as the Georgia House voted to put the gay marriage ban in the state constitution.
The amendment, which will appear on the ballot this fall, will more than likely pass since polls consistently show a wide disapproval for gay "marriage" from the voters.
Georgia already bans gay marriage, but this matter is not addressed in the constitution. Once the amendment is passed, it will not only ban the legalization of gay "marriage" in Georgia, but it will also prohibit the recognition of gay "marriage" licenses obtained from other states.
Supporters of the complete ban on gay marriage and civil unions keenly saw that without a clear constitutional amendment, activist judges and officials will continue to stretch and challenge the law.
"We cannot let judges in Boston, or officials in San Francisco, define marriage for the people of Georgia," said GOP Rep. Bill Hembree, the amendment's sponsor, referring to other hotspots in the national debate over gay marriage.
When the amendment was first debated at the Democratic House last month, it was narrowly defeated, mostly because of the opposition of black lawmakers who compared the gay rights debate to the civil rights struggle.
However, a month later, after the coalition of black pastors in Georgia clarified that comparing the two movements would be an insult to the hard-earned struggles of the black leaders of the past, several of the black lawmakers changed face and voted yes, giving the amendment the needed two-thirds majority to pass.
Democrat Rep. Randal Mangham was one of those black lawmakers who abstained from the first vote, and voted for the amendment on Wednesday.
"I don't appreciate having to explain to my 9-year-old why two big husky guys are kissing," Mangham said, then added: "God discriminates against the act, but he loves the person. I will continue to protect people who live that lifestyle."
Currently, 38 states have laws that define marriage solely as a heterosexual institution.