Will gay marriage stop this Georgia judge?

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Pride shuffler and gay Vodka sipper U.S. Rep. John Lewis and a handful of other progressive Georgians are protesting a judicial pick in part over his years-old efforts to ban gay marriage in the state.

Lewis was joined by Rev. Joseph Lowery, Reps. David Scott and Hank Johnson, and state Sent. Vincent Fort at a press conference Monday to denounce picks by President Obama for federal district court judgeships in north Georgia. Lowery was among the first civil rights icons to come out in support of gay marriage last year, while Fort helped pass the state's now-defunct hate crimes law.

They took particular offense with Georgia Court of Appeals Judge Michael Boggs, who served as a Democrat in the state House from 2001-04. Obama cut a deal with Sens. Saxby Chambliss, who is most certainly not getting gay married, and Johnny Isakson on the appointments, so it's little wonder they settled on someone like Boggs (photo).

The White House portrayed him as a law-and-order judicial innovator.

Judge Michael P. Boggs has been a judge on the Court of Appeals of Georgia since January 2012.  Previously, Judge Boggs served as a Superior Court Judge in the Waycross Judicial Circuit of the First Judicial Administrative District of Georgia from 2004 to 2012.  While serving as a Superior Court Judge, he established and presided over the court’s felony drug court program.  Prior to joining the bench, Judge Boggs was a sole practitioner from 1998 to 2005 and worked in private practice in various law firms from 1990 to 1998.  In 2000, he was elected to serve as a Democratic State Representative to Georgia’s General Assembly, a position he held until 2004.  Judge Boggs received his J.D. in 1990 from Mercer University’s Walter F. George School of Law and his B.A. in 1985 from Georgia Southern College.

But on Monday, detractors painted him as something else.

Group leaders said they are concerned that Boggs advocated to keep the Confederate battle emblem as part of the state flag when he was a state senator, and for voting against marriage equality and abortion rights.

Fort offered a little more.

State Senator Vincent Fort, D-Atlanta, took to the pulpit to highlight certain aspects of Boggs' record as a Democratic member of the state House of Representatives from Waycross for 2000 to 2004. Fort previously had publicized Boggs' 2001 vote to retain Georgia's old state flag, which was embedded with the Confederate battle emblem. On Monday he offered more research, saying Boggs had spoken in favor of the legislation that authorized the 2004 state referendum banning gay marriage and had sponsored anti-abortion legislation during the 2003-04 legislative session. Materials Fort distributed to the media showed Boggs sponsored bills, neither of which came to a vote that session, to strengthen the state's law requiring minors seeking an abortion to notify a parent or go before a judge and to create "Choose Life" license plates.

Fort then summed it up with this quip: "Michael Boggs is on the wrong side of history." And about to get a big promotion because of it.

[11 Alive | AJC | WSBDaily Report]


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