The Supreme Court will hear arguments on Proposition 8, California’s constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, on March 26, while arguments on the Defense of Marriage Act, the 1996 law that forbids the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions, will be heard the following day. The outcome of the cases will shape the fight for marriage equality for same-sex couples for years to come.
All of the signers of the Congressional brief in the DOMA case are Democrats, so it’s no surprise that Georgia’s two U.S. senators — Saxby Chambliss and Johnny Isakson, both Republicans — aren’t listed.
But Georgia’s 14-member delegation in the U.S. House includes 5 Democrats. How many signed on to support marriage equality for same-sex couples? Just two, and it’s the two you would expect: Reps. John Lewis and Hank Johnson, both representing districts in the Atlanta metro area.
Overall, the 30 Democratic members of the House who didn’t sign include three from Georgia: John Barrow, Sanford Bishop and David Scott.
(The New Civil Rights Movement gets it wrong in listing Tom Graves as a Democrat from Georgia who didn’t sign; Graves is most definitely a Republican.)
Scott, in particular, is a disappointment. On the last Congressional Scorecard compiled by the Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest LGBT political group, he scored 80 percent — the third-highest score from Georgia, behind Lewis and Johnson, who both scored a perfect 100. In contrast, Bishop scored 30 percent while Barrow scored zero.
It’s also ironic that back in 2010, Barrow, Bishop and Scott joined Lewis and Johnson in voting in favor of repealing the military’s “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
Apparently, gay and lesbian people are good enough to fight and die for our country, but not good enough to get married in it.
But as tempting as it is to give up hope on these representatives, it is important that Barrow, Bishop and Scott’s constituents don’t do that. If you are LGBT, reach out to tell your congressman your story. It may not change their minds in the short-term, but at least they will know it is real people whose lives and loves they are siding against.
Photo: U.S. Rep. John Lewis, a longtime civil rights leader and LGBT rights ally, is one of only two Georgia members of Congress who signed a brief asking the U.S. Supreme Court to overturn the Defense of Marriage Act. (Official photo)