Georgia judge waffles on past anti-gay rhetoric

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Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, who as a state lawmaker called banning gay marriage “common sense,” on Tuesday tried to back away from his anti-gay rants during a Senate confirmation hearing.

Boggs, a controversial pick among a slate of judicial nominees from the Obama administration, was pushed on same-sex marriage by Republican Sen. Chuck Grassley. He waffled and hinted that maybe his staunch opposition to gay marriage in 2004 has since been tempered by years on the state bench. Or maybe not.

“My personal opinion was, at the time, over a decade ago, that I was in support of a proposed constitutional amendment that would have banned same-sex marriage. My position on that, senator, may or may not have changed since that time, as many people’s have over the last decade.”

In 2004, Boggs was a state lawmaker pushing for the passage for a state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. That measure is now at the center of a federal lawsuit filed last month. From the floor of the state House, Boggs offered this in a speech supporting the gay marriage ban.

“I tell you that and I submit to you that whether you’re a Democrat or whether you’re a Republican, whether you’re rural, from a rural area, like myself, or whether you represent an urban area, we have opportunities seldom in my short tenure in the legislature to stand up for things that are commonsensical, things that are premised on good conservative Christian values, and in this instance in particular, to support the sanctity of marriage.”

Boggs' nomination to the federal district bench angered many progressives, who mounted an energetic campaign against Boggs in recent weeks over his support as a state lawmaker for banning gay marriage, abortion restrictions and the Confederate flag.

Watch Boggs' floor speech from 2004 or read the transcript below:

Thank you Mr. Speaker. Ladies and gentleman of the House, many of you, like me, earlier today were wondering if we would have an opportunity to vote on Senate Resolution 595.

I want tell you that uh, that obviously it is a simple proposition, albeit one that is not without controversy and I understand that and can respect differing opinions.

But I want to stand before you today and tell you that it’s my opinion that, both as a Christian and as a lawyer and as a member of this House, that it’s our opportunity to stand up in support of this resolution. I think it’s important to recognize the dangers that we face with respect to activist judges, with respect to mayors who are operating in derogation of current state law.

Many folks have asked, well why do we need this particular proposed constitutional amendment in light of the Defense of Marriage Act, which is codified in 19-3-3.1? Many of you know that in 1998, the Georgia Supreme Court struck down Georgia’s sodomy laws and I found it interesting that the lone dissent in that case by Justice Carley, speaking with respect to the state regulating the private sexual conduct of consenting adults, that Justice Carley indicated that quote, “Just because, that because, this right is not in the context, or in the text of the Constitution, its boundaries are necessarily unclear.”

Other states have similar prohibitions against same-sex marriages. In Hawaii, for example, um, the state Supreme Court has struck down a statute similar to that that is codified in Georgia law. Same has been done in Alaska.

I submit to you that proposing a constitutional amendment that in fact mirrors the language, for the most part, that is codified in Georgia’s Defense of Marriage Act, will give us an additional safe card. It will, in fact, prohibit state constitutional challenges to the proposition that is outlined in Georgia law already. That’s important, it will not affect federal challenges, but it will affect state challenges.

I tell you that and I submit to you that whether you’re a Democrat or whether you’re a Republican, whether you’re rural, from a rural area, like myself, or whether you represent an urban area, we have opportunities seldom in my short tenure in the legislature to stand up for things that are commonsensical, things that are premised on good conservative Christian values, and in this instance in particular, to support the sanctity of marriage.

I’m gonna ask all of you, like me, to support this proposition and I ask for your favorable consideration.

Thank you.

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