Democrat Michelle Nunn delivered her strongest statement yet supporting gay marriage during a raucous debate Tuesday that featured all three candidates for the open U.S. Senate seat in Georgia.
Nunn, who has stumbled with the issue during her campaign, was unequivocal on marriage equality when pressed by Libertarian opponent Amanda Swafford.
"I have said throughout this campaign that I believe that all people should have the same right as my husband and I have to marry," Nunn said to applause (watch above). "I also believe that marriage is not only a legal construct but a sacrament and that every faith tradition needs to be able to define marriage for itself. That has been my position throughout the campaign."
The response to Swafford's question is as clear as Nunn has been about gay marriage during the campaign. But she has fine-tuned her position from early on when she described gay marriage as an issue that individual states should decide. That rankled some LGBT activists and after public criticism from gay supporters, Mayor Kasim Reed and U.S. Rep. John Lewis, Nunn tightened her position and dropped any mention of how states should address marriage equality.
The comments from Nunn also mark the first time she's addressed the issue in such a large public forum. She refuses to talk to the gay press, despite facing a growing problem among some LGBT supporters. The campaign also declined to address why, during her tenure at Points of Light, the organization honored an anti-gay CEO.
Swafford has made it clear that she backs gay marriage, telling Project Q in August that, "One of the hallmarks of my campaign for the Senate is to recognize that the fundamental role of government is to preserve our individual rights."
Perdue doesn't back gay marriage, explaining on his website that he wants to "protect traditional marriage."
There are principles I share with a majority of Georgians. I believe that we should promote a culture that values life and protects the innocent, especially the unborn. I also believe that we must protect traditional marriage, keeping it clearly defined as between one man and one woman. Being pro-life and believing in the sanctity of marriage are my deeply held personal convictions. I will not waver in defending them if I have the privilege of serving you in the U.S Senate.
During the debate, Nunn also expressed reservations about the troubled nomination of Michael Boggs, a state Court of Appeals judge hoping for a seat on the federal bench. Progressive activists have blasted the former Georgia lawmaker for his anti-gay positions and support of the Confederate battle flag and abortion restrictions. Nunn addressed the Boggs nomination in response to a question from the AJC's Political Insider Jim Galloway (watch above).
[video via WMAZ]