GOP’s nominee for lieutenant governor veers from ticket on same-sex marriage

Credit: Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Credit: Troy Stolt/Chattanooga Times Free Press

Georgia’s Republican nominee for lieutenant governor is the only candidate at the top of his party’s ticket to say he would support amending the state’s constitution to allow same-sex marriage.

Burt Jones, a state senator from Jackson, told Axios this week that he has always supported Georgians being “with who you want to love.” His campaign did not respond to multiple requests for comment from The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

LGBTQ rights groups in Georgia and across the country have expressed concern that same-sex marriage could be targeted after the U.S. Supreme Court earlier this year overturned Roe v. Wade, which established a constitutional right to abortion.

LGBTQ groups say they worry the possibility that the right to marriage established by the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges could also be overturned and sent to the states to govern — which would potentially outlaw the unions in Georgia.

Georgia residents in 2004 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional amendment that established marriage as “only the union of man and woman.” Were the Supreme Court to overturn Obergefell, Georgia’s constitution could require that the state not recognize same-sex marriages.

Asked whether he would support repealing the language in the state constitution, Jones told Axios he would “if we needed to.”

Jones is the lone candidate at the top of the Republican ticket who said he would support changing the state’s constitution.

A spokesman for Gov. Brian Kemp said the governor’s “position on same-sex marriage has not changed. This issue has been settled by the U.S. Supreme Court.” Kemp is on record saying his personal position is that marriage is between a man and a woman.

Attorney General Chris Carr’s campaign manager, Neil Bitting, called questions about supporting changes to the state constitution “purely hypothetical.”

“Only the Legislature and the voters of Georgia could make that determination,” Bitting said. “Attorney General Carr will defend the law, whatever it is, because that’s the job of the attorney general.”

At a July campaign stop in Athens, Republican U.S. Senate hopeful Herschel Walker wouldn’t say whether he’d vote to write same-sex marriage into law as the senators consider that possibility.

”We need to worry about what’s happening right now. Right now this economy is failing.”

All statewide Democratic candidates support the continued recognition of same-sex marriages. The U.S. House has passed a bill that would legalize same-sex marriage in federal code. U.S. senators are considering the legislation.

Staff reporter Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.