We won't be fooled again

Gov. Sonny Perdue must think we're stupid. He has issued an ultimatum to the Supreme Court of Georgia to reverse a lower court decision - or else.

The governor says if the high court doesn't uphold Georgia's constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages, he'll call a special legislative session to take care of it. He gave the court an Aug. 7 deadline.

A special session would cost a minimum of $500,000. Perdue wants to put the anti-gay amendment on the election ballot again.

Our governor must be waiting for the cheering throngs to raise him onto their shoulders and declare him hero of the year. He may have to wait awhile.

If Perdue and his followers are truly interested only in preventing the scourge of same-sex weddings, they must know that reinstatement of the constitutional amendment does not matter. Homosexual weddings are prohibited by statutory law in Georgia. They were banned long before the recently invalidated constitutional amendment was passed. Federal law also outlaws same-sex marriages.

If it must, the regular 2007 General Assembly can tend to the gay marriage amendment in January. This is not a big deal, though puzzlement abounds as to why Superior Court Judge Constance Russell waited so long (18 months) to toss out the amendment on technical grounds. (Conspiracy theorists, take note: Russell was appointed to the bench by Gov. Zell Miller. The wild-eyed Democratic maverick recently endorsed Perdue's re-election bid and even narrated some of his TV advertising.)

Why is Perdue in such a rush to act on gay marriages before this year's election? His reason appears obvious. Perdue has poll numbers that show his re-election prospects are not as bright as he would have us believe. We have seen polls indicating he is not even popular among educators to whom he has promised raises and $100 plastic gift cards.

Maybe he figured the gay marriage issue would give his re-election bid a needed lift.

As of this writing, the gay marriage issue has been in the headlines four days. Yet no one in our household has mentioned it. Not a single neighbor has pounded on our door to warn of homosexual hordes waiting at the altar.

I attended a large gathering of business and professional people Wednesday. Not a single person rushed up to wonder, "Hey, what are we going to do about this gay marriage ruling? This could be serious. We must act!"

However, at about the time Russell got around to writing her opinion, a major social event occurred in northside Atlanta - a huge and glittering wedding celebration, attended almost exclusively by Republican swells, many of whom have contributed heavily to Perdue's campaign kitty. Guess what? The bride and groom were both women. They were officially wed in Canada but came back to Atlanta to celebrate the union.

Obviously, the homosexual marriage issue is being rekindled to dupe unthinking voters who aren't members of Atlanta high society. Perdue and his advisers may be in for a surprise. Georgia voters are not as dumb as they think - or wish. Voters know when someone is trying to fool them and divert their attention from real problems, and Perdue is plainly that someone on this trumped-up issue.

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The missing guest: Former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani's fundraising luncheon for Ralph Reed's bid for lieutenant governor was a smashing success.

Never mind that socially liberal Giuliani, a possible presidential candidate, and the ultraconservative Reed, a Duluth resident, are on opposite sides of such key issues as gay rights, abortion and gun control. Giuliani praised Reed's leadership talents and said he's willing "to do anything possible" to help Reed win.

Still, one nagging question about the Ralph & Rudy Show persists: Where was Sadie?

Georgia Christian Coalition chief Sadie Fields has been one of Reed's most enthusiastic supporters. She also is an avowed foe of abortion, gay weddings and, I'll bet, any perceived coziness between Reed and the famous former New York mayor.

Fields was a no-show at the lunch attended by about 300 Reed well-wishers. When we phoned her office to talk, an aide said icily, "She's out of town" and wanted to know why we wanted to speak with her.

Is Fields on her way to political Splitsville with Reed because of Giuliani? Probably not, but such a blow would be more devastating to Reed than another Jack Abramoff golfing trip.

Syndicated columnist Bill Shipp writes on Georgia politics. Write him at P.O. Box 440755, Kennesaw, GA 30160, or e-mail bshipp@bellsouth.net. His Web site is www.billshipp.com. His column appears on Wednesday and Sunday.