For the third year in a row, Governor Sonny Perdues effort to bring the Georgia Constitutions religion provisions into accord with the First Amendment has failed, falling short of the two-thirds supermajority necessary in the state House. It was basically a straight party-line vote, with one Republican voting against, and two Democrats in favor of, the proposal. Oddly enough, Ron Sailor, Jr., the lone African-American and Democratic co-sponsor didnt vote, perhaps because the Legislative Black Caucus had mobilized against it.
I draw two lessons from the defeat, which was orchestrated by the teachers unions. First, on the whole, at least so far as its legislative officeholders are concerned, lines up quite closely with its national counterpart. Almost all the conservative southern Democrats are now conservative southern Republicans. Whats left of the Democratic Party is either dominated by or aligned with the public sector unions, as is the national party.
Second, African-American Democrats are particularly concerned that a closer relationship between faith-based organizations and government may cost them votes. Randal Mangham, the only black Democrat to vote for the measure, has an M.Div. and community development experience, both of which might make him predisposed to favor the state analogue of President Bushs faith-based initiative.
My advice to Governor Perdue is not to try again unless Republicans have the requisite 2/3 majority in both houses of the State Legislature, which I dont foresee. Well just have to live with a number of long-standing and popular practices that are simply at odds with the state constitution, at least until the Freedom From Religion Foundation comes calling.
My most recent previous post on this subject (chock full of links) is here.