It’s time for Georgia to stop falling in last when it comes to equal rights. Stop repeating history and for once lead the South in the fight for equality. We are now recognized federally, it makes no sense to not be recognized by our home state, when recognized by our country.

As of this post, some 3,500 gay rights supporters have added their signatures to the petition. The goal, according to the Change.org campaign webpage, is to collect 5,000 total signers.

The short petition simply calls on Deal and the state legislature to “make same-sex marriage legal in Georgia.”

Short of a court decision forcing the issue, the actual process to legalize same-sex marriage here is complicated. In 2004, Georgia voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. Repealing the amendment would require a two-thirds majority vote in both the state House and Senate to put the measure on the ballot, then approval by a majority of Georgia voters.

The most recent state poll on the issue, conducted immediately after the DOMA decisions, showed 61 percent of Georgians support the current ban.

State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Avondale Estates), who led the fight against the amendment in 2004, has said “would love” introduce legislation to start the process of repealing the ban, but fears putting it on the ballot too quickly could lead to another loss.

“If we put it on the ballot again to overturn it and we lose, then what do we say?” Drenner asked. “Oops, sorry, we want to wait a little longer?’”

Carver’s campaign follows a letter she mailed to Ga. Gov. Nathan Deal, sharing her story and urging Deal to work toward overturning the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

My name is Amanda Newkirk. I am twenty six years old and live in Braselton Georgia. As a child, I traveled all over the world while my father served in the United States Air Force and spent much of my life in Europe. In 2005 I finally graduated high school and boarded a plane to come home to my home state of Georgia. No matter where I’ve gone, or what cities I’ve seen, I’ve remained loyal and in love with the Peach state. I love everything about this state; the smell of honeysuckle in the spring and summer, the food, the hospitality, the love and the fact that we never meet a stranger.  This great state is filled with such a rich history and played such a major part in the history of the South and I wouldn’t change a thing. Some of our history makes me happy, and some of it makes me sad, but all of it has made us what we are today and I stand strong in the fact that this great state will never let me down.

The world around us is constantly changing. Many times I watch the news and wonder if I’m behind in the times or if I’m way too far ahead. I feel history plays a part in everything we do. We can either learn from it and better ourselves, leaving a better state for our children and grandchildren, or we can ignore it and repeat it over and over again, never actually learning the lesson we were supposed to learn.

My family and I are living examples of this. I ask that you read this letter to its fullness, keeping an open mind and understanding that this letter is the cry of my heart.

I am married with two beautiful step children. Their names are Lynn and Eric and they are sixteen and seventeen. They fill my heart with so much love and gratitude that sometimes I can’t believe this is my life. The problem is I have no legal binding to my kids at all. I can’t even take them to the doctor. I miss all their student/teacher conferences, I am not allowed to fill out forms for them, I am not even allowed to drive them outside the state, even though they call me “mom” and do not understand. All of this because I am married to another woman.

My wife’s name is Teri Clements. In April we flew to Vermont and were married in the mountains in a small barn outside my Aunt’s house. It was the most beautiful day of my life. I looked into the eyes of the person I loved and pledged to spend the rest of my life striving to take care of my family and love them unconditionally.  My family and friends could not be there for my special day because we were forced to leave the state to get married. When planning my dream wedding I had countless photographers and vendors tell me they would not help me because “marriage” was a Christian word and they didn’t support my marriage. Well no offense, but I’m a Southern Baptist, and I am a Christian. And if marriage was only for Christians, then how come atheists are allowed to do it too?

I cannot change my last name to share it with my wife and children. I can’t adopt them and truly make them my kids when I’ve loved them as my own for so long and I cannot share benefits or tax cuts with my wife. My house is in my wife’s name because we could not buy it together and if she were to die tomorrow my house, my children and everything I know and love would be ripped away from me. For the first time in my life I live in fear because of the state I love. All because someone has decided, for whatever reason that I don’t understand, that my relationship is less valid then theirs and shouldn’t be called a marriage. I live in constant worry, panic and fear of the unknown.

Recently DOMA was struck down by the Supreme Court of the United States. While I watched the celebration on T.V. I was struck by a deep sadness in my heart. While the rest of the world celebrates changing and evolving I am still in Georgia where my marriage is constantly cast aside and deemed unofficial. When will I get the chance to have the family that everyone else has?

In history the state of Georgia has always fallen last in changing with the times. With all due respect I am tired of falling in last. The North is changing their laws and even the United States Government is now falling in line. It’s time for Georgia to lead the South and stop coming in last place. It’s time for the state I love, and desperately don’t want to leave to take a stand and show that we can be a conservative state without stepping on families in the process. It’s time for us to show that we can be a nation under one God who treats everyone as an equal.

I am asking that we make same sex marriage a priority. For so many people it is not issue number one because it does not affect them; and for a time I felt the same way. But this affects my family on  a deep, personal level and I want my children to love this great state as much as I do. I’m tired of bigotry, inequality, and ignorance being the only thing they know.

I am asking that we lead the South in changing the laws for our state. I want same sex marriage legalized in the state of Georgia before the year 2015. I urge you to pray, search your hearts and listen to the cry of your citizens. The young boys hanging themselves in their bedrooms at night because they are struggling with their sexuality and the families who live in fear everyday of losing everything they know and love because they receive no support from their government. It’s the right thing to do, the Christian thing to do, and the Georgian thing to do.

With all respect and sincerity

Amanda L. Newkirk

 

Top photo: GA Gov. Nathan Deal

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