LGBTQ state lawmakers express concerns about future of same-sex marriage in Georgia

A group of LGBTQ state lawmakers held a news conference at the state Capitol Monday to express their concerns about the future of same-sex marriage in Georgia after the Supreme Court overturned Roe v. Wade.

"I'm here today preemptively to let everyone know that I'm watching and that we're not going to go back into the shadows and be quiet about any of these issues," said state Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates.

Rep. Drenner was the first openly-gay lawmaker in the state when she took office in 2001.

She and others organized the event to respond to comments made last week by Gov. Brian Kemp, R-Georgia. He told Axios that his "personal opinion" is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

In 2004, voters overwhelmingly approved an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that bans same-sex marriage. Kemp, who was a state senator at the time, voted in support of that resolution in the state legislature.

That amendment prohibited gay marriage in Georgia until a Supreme Court ruling in 2015 made same-sex marriage legal across the United States.

"Governor Kemp's position on same-sex marriage has not changed. This issue has been settled by the U.S. Supreme Court," a Kemp campaign spokesman said in a statement to FOX 5.

The issue has recently resurfaced though because Justice Clarence Thomas suggested as part of his opinion on Roe that the court reconsider that.

When the Supreme Court reversed its position on abortion this summer, the issue then went back to individual states to decide, and Georgia's "heartbeat" abortion ban, which Gov. Kemp signed in 2019, went into effect.

"Brian Kemp has been clear that it is his 'personal' belief that marriage should be between a man and a woman and I think he says 'personal' so that maybe we not become alarmed, but what we know is that when Brian Kemp has personal beliefs, he imposes those into law," said state Sen. Kim Jackson, D-Stone Mountain.

Some state lawmakers fear that gay marriage could meet the same fate if the state's leadership does not change.

"We cannot afford four more years of Kemp and Republican extremists in complete control of state government," said state Rep. Sam Park, D-Lawrenceville. "Now is the time that we must rise up to meet the challenges we face. Our future remains in our hands," said Rep. Park. "By the power of the vote, we can move Georgia forward and elect leaders who believe that all Georgians deserve equal protection under the law and who will take action to protect the fundamental constitutional rights of all."