GOP can­di­date for US Se­nate fa­vors same-sex mar­riage

Art Gard­ner vy­ing to re­place Saxby Cham­b­liss

GA Voice - - Contents - By DYANA BAGBY dbagby@the­gavoice.com

Art Gard­ner is in a tough, crowded race for the Repub­li­can nom­i­na­tion for the U.S. Se­nate seat to re­place out­go­ing Saxby Cham­b­liss. But one thing that clearly sep­a­rates him from the pack is vo­cal sup­port of same-sex mar­riage.

“I’ve al­ways been a Repub­li­can. I voted for Ger­ald Ford over Jimmy Carter. But at the same time, I don’t agree with the views the party’s can­di­dates have taken in re­cent years, in par­tic­u­lar over this is­sue,” Gard­ner said in a re­cent in­ter­view.

The GOP Se­nate race in Ge­or­gia is a key one be­cause Repub­li­cans need to re­tain all of their cur­rent seats and pick up six more to be­come the Se­nate ma­jor­ity. Ge­or­gia is one state Democrats are watch­ing closely in hopes of win­ning, thereby keep­ing con­trol of their cur­rent Se­nate ma­jor­ity.

No clear front-run­ner is polling in the Repub­li­can se­nate race that in­cludes:

• Karen Han­del, for­mer Sec­re­tary of State who also ran for gover­nor in 2010 and in this race has the back­ing of Tea Party dar­ling Sarah Palin. Han­del also has a mixed his­tory with sup­port­ing gay peo­ple when run­ning for early of­fice be­fore not sup­port­ing them at all in any way as she seeks higher of­fice.

• U.S. Rep. Paul Broun of Athens, who in 2009 in­tro­duced a fed­eral con­sti­tu­tional amend­ment to ban same-sex mar­riage and also says evo­lu­tion is “lies from the pit of hell.”

• U.S. Rep. Phil Gin­grey of Ma­ri­etta, who de­fended U.S. Rep. Todd Akins’ (R-Miss.) com­ments that a woman’s body shuts down when she is raped and there­fore pre­vents her from get­ting preg­nant by say­ing he was “partly right.” He also of course sup­ports the anti-gay De­fense of Mar­riage Act and thinks chil­dren be­come con­fused about their gen­ders un­less taught at a very young age only girls can like cer­tain things and only boys can like cer­tain things.

•Con­ser­va­tive ac­tivist Derrick Grayson, who cham­pi­ons him­self as the “only con­sti­tu­tional con­ser­va­tive” in the race.

• Anti-gay U.S. Rep. Jack Kingston of Sa­van­nah who also does not sup­port same-sex mar­riage based on re­li­gious be­liefs.

• David Per­due, for­mer CEO of Dol­lar Gen­eral and cousin of for­mer Gov. Sonny Per­due, and a believer in the “sanc­tity of mar­riage.”

GARD­NER: GOP ONLY WAY TO STOP ‘HOUSE OF CARDS’ COL­LAPSE

Gard­ner said he did not jump in the race to chal­lenge his fel­low Repub­li­cans on so­cial is­sues. But he knew he would have to an­swer cer- tain ques­tions as a can­di­date, in­clud­ing those on same-sex mar­riage and re­pro­duc­tive rights.

“I got in the race to try to fix the bud­get prob­lem,” he said. “But you’ve got to look in­side your­self and how you are go­ing to an­swer cer­tain ques­tions. I’m pro-choice and in fa­vor of gay mar­riage. This is where my con­science is. I knew I had to own up to that. It hasn’t made me a lot of friends,” he ac­knowl­edged.

As a patent at­tor­ney, Gard­ner says he sup­ports same-sex mar­riage be­cause he be­lieves the con­sti­tu­tion does not al­low for dis­crim­i­na­tion against a cer­tain group of peo­ple.

Gard­ner says he speaks on his stances at ev­ery speech and de­bate and that the GOP lead­er­ship has not put up any road­blocks to his cam­paign’s mes­sage. “The party it­self has been very wel­com­ing to me. A lot of peo­ple are say­ing this is a di­a­logue we need to be hav­ing.”

There are those in the Repub­li­can Party who don’t want any­thing to do with Gard­ner, he also said.

“There are in­di­vid­u­als who vi­o­lently dis­agree with me. They get in my grill af­ter I’m done talk­ing and cite bib­li­cal pas­sages. Sev­eral times when I’ve been speak­ing peo­ple have got­ten up up and walked out. I’m un­de­terred,” he said. “This is part of the pack­age. I didn’t get in this race to cru­sade for so­cial is­sues but I’m not go­ing to hide from what I think is right.”

Gard­ner also said he be­lieves the path the coun­try is on now will quickly lead to de­struc­tion and to­tal so­cial­ism and fas­cism.

“The way I see it, the only thing stand­ing be­tween the de­struc­tion of the poli­cies be­ing pushed by the left edge to­ward so­cial­ism and fas­cism is the Repub­li­can Party,” he said.

Gard­ner said he is also con­cerned about the num­ber of peo­ple liv­ing off govern­ment as­sis­tance.

“When too many peo­ple are liv­ing off the govern­ment and not work­ing, then the [sys­tem] will fall apart and will stop work­ing, too.” he said.

The Repub­li­can Party is the only way to stop the govern­ment from “col­laps­ing like a house of cards” Gard­ner said.

“For party to be ef­fec­tive and to pro­tect the party we have to win elec­tions … and we can’t win by ap­peal­ing to a nar­rower and nar­rower base of vot­ers,” he said.

“We’re push­ing away mi­nori­ties, women and Mil­len­ni­als. If you turn off that 25-yearold… some are Repub­li­can, but most don’t un­der­stand why you are fo­cus­ing on same­sex mar­riage or women’s rights and not fo­cus­ing on the bud­get, on de­fense, on the NSA creep­ing into our phone bills. We can’t af­ford to turn off young peo­ple,” Gard­ner said.

Gard­ner also notes that the likely Demo­cratic nom­i­nee, Michelle Nunn, hasn’t stated clearly her po­si­tion on same-sex mar­riage. In an in­ter­view with the At­lanta Jour­nal-Con­sti­tu­tion, Nunn said she per­son­ally fa­vors same-sex mar­riage but that it is a state’s right is­sue.

“I chal­lenge her to say what her po­si­tion re­ally is. Where does she stand on this. I’m sure she’s cam­paign­ing and re­quest­ing fund­ing from the gay com­mu­nity and do­ing so with­out say­ing what her stance re­ally is. I’m do­ing the op­po­site.

“And she’s go­ing to take money and votes from [the gay com­mu­nity] and leave them at the al­tar,” he added.

Art Gard­ner, one of seven can­di­dates vy­ing for Saxby Cham­b­liss’ seat in the U.S. Se­nate, is the only GOP can­di­date who sup­ports same-sex mar­riage. (Cour­tesy photo)

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