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Jimmy Carter publicly backs civil unions

His position is not a complete surprise here, but the important thing is the man is not only a former President, but he is a devout Christian and a Southerner. His public statements of tolerance and support of gay couples’ right to civil recognition are significant (Southern Voice Online):

Former President Jimmy Carter confirmed this week that he supports state-sanctioned civil unions for gay couples, in response to a letter from two veteran Atlanta gay rights activists and questions from Southern Voice.

President Carter opposes all forms of discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and believes there should be equal protection under the law for people who differ in sexual orientation,” said Deanna Congileo, Carter’s press secretary.

Carter “favors equal protection for gay partnerships formed through a secular, civil union recognized by the state,” Congileo said.

Berl Boykin and Dave Hayward, coordinators of Touching Up Our Roots, a gay history project, delivered a letter to the Carter Center in late October, asking Carter to speak out against a proposed state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Southern Voice asked questions about the letter this week.

Carter, winner of the Nobel Peace Prize, remained publicly silent on the Georgia amendment, which voters overwhelmingly approved on Nov. 2. But his support for civil unions builds on comments he made at Emory University in September and during an Oct. 18 appearance on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews.”

Carter conducts an annual public forum at Emory, fielding questions from students. During this year’s event, Carter said he doesn’t “endorse” gay marriage, but feels gay unions “ought to be blessed by governments and by the general society,” according to the Emory Wheel, the campus newspaper.

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Pam Spaulding

Pam Spaulding