About 100 supporters joined a lunchtime crowd in Atlanta Monday as the Indigo Girls joined the debate over a proposed constitutional amendment banning gay marriage in the state. The folk rock duo urged voters to reject an effort to add a same-sex marriage ban to the state constitution--saying the initiative is discriminatory and its language is misleading. "Today is the day to come out against prejudice and stand up for liberties--such as the right to marry--which should be granted to all citizens," said singer and guitarist Emily Saliers during the rally in Woodruff Park. Saliers and musical partner Amy Ray performed two of their songs--"Let It Be Me" and "Hammer and a Nail"--as amendment opponents waved signs reading "No to Deception: Vote No on Amendment 1." Opponents argue that the amendment, which voters are scheduled to consider on the November 2 general election ballot, is unconstitutional. They say the language on the ballot, which simply addresses gay marriage, does not accurately describe the amendment--which includes legal limits they say would outlaw civil unions and other legal contracts between people of the same sex. "It is one thing to oppose gay marriage," Democratic state representative Karla Drenner, the legislature's only openly gay member, said at the rally. "It is quite another to institutionalize this degree of discrimination."
Last month a superior court judge dismissed a legal effort to block a vote on the amendment, saying she did not have legal authority to do so. The Georgia supreme court is scheduled to hear an appeal in the case on October 19. Supporters of the ban say state lawyers had to approve the language of the
amendment before it was drafted and say they're confident it will withstand the legal challenge. "But if the entire amendment was on the ballot, the citizens of Georgia would still vote to approve," said Sadie Fields, executive director of the Christian Coalition of Georgia. Georgia law already defines marriage as a union between a man and a woman. But supporters of the amendment, which was approved by the Georgia legislature this year, say adding the language to the constitution would make it harder to challenge in court. The rally was sponsored by Georgians Against Discrimination, a group working
to defeat the amendment. (AP)