A rebuilding year for Christian conservatives

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Karma can be a bitch. Just ask religious conservative groups at the Gold Dome.

Their power and influence on lawmakers at the State Capitol has waned — and quite a bit — since their heyday in 2004 when they pushed and won a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage when it was already illegal in Georgia.

Five years past the height of their power, when they persuaded two-thirds of the state Legislature to endorse a constitutional ban on gay marriage, conservative Christian groups find themselves splintered and their clout much diminished.

Still, they remain influential and dangerous to progressive causes, not just issues particularly important to gay men and women across the state.

But internal dissent, a confrontation last year with state lawmakers, and Barack Obama’s election — not to mention a spiraling economy that shifts attention away from social issues — all have taken their toll.

Last year, Georgia Right to Life pushed hard for H.R. 536, a proposed constitutional amendment to declare fertilized eggs to be human beings. The archdiocese declined to support it. Other groups declared themselves neutral. Hardball tactics offended lawmakers. The measure died.

“Last year was a huge learning curve for us. Maybe we overplayed our hand with the human life amendment,” said Tim Echols, one of those who organized last week’s gathering. “We got such a push-back from the General Assembly. We were all marginalized as a result.”

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