State Rep. Karla Drenner (D-Atlanta) who led the fight in the legislature against the marriage amendment in 2004 and went head to head with Porter on the issue, asked him how he planned to help advocate and bridge the gap for marriage equality outside metro Atlanta.
“We went through 2004 together,” Drenner said. “I’m curious how you plan to help us outside the metropolitan Atlanta area on the issue of marriage equality.”
“Not being afraid to talk about it,” Porter said. “All of us have personal experiences. I went through a pretty messy divorce. What I thought was the perfect marriage just fell apart.”
Porter and his ex-wife, Carol Porter, ran for governor and lieutenant governor respectively in 2010. They announced their divorce in 2011.
Porter said a gay cousin from DeKalb County went to New York to get legally married and he realized their commitment to each other was stronger than what he had.
Porter also said his physical attributes contribute to him being a perhaps better messenger than a politician from Atlanta.
“It’s better to have a bald-headed fat redneck,” he said to laughter. “I think I can help take that message better than someone from Atlanta. [And] Because I believe in it and I’m not afraid to talk about it,” he said.
“Times have changed haven’t they,” Drenner said.
After the meeting, Porter told the GA Voice he never had conversations with his gay relative about the issue of same-sex marriage.
“It’s just what I saw. Their commitment is obviously stronger than what I had and just as real and that opportunity should be given to everyone in Georgia,” he said.
The fight over marriage equality in 2004 was “awful,” Porter said.
“We knew we didn’t need to go that far,” he said. But the “noise” from opponents to LGBT equality was loud and there was no way to counter it. As the chair of the state Democratic Party, Porter said he wants to raise enough money and awareness to drown out such noise in the future so progressive values can be passed into law in the state.
Watch Porter discuss his stance on same-sex marriage: