ATLANTA – The sponsor of a resolution honoring Jane Fonda in the state Senate abandoned the effort on Thursday, after a rocky reception from some colleagues and a phone call from the actress' office.
Sen. Steen Miles, D-Decatur, said a representative for Fonda, who is out of the country, asked that she avoid the controversy the effort had stirred.
"This, ladies and gentlemen, should not be occupying our time," said Miles.
Despite the backtracking, the Senate's Republican majority forced a last-minute vote on the issue. It failed on a 38-1 vote, with even Miles voting against it.
The resolution cites the Atlanta resident's work as founder of the Georgia Campaign for Adolescent Pregnancy Prevention, donations to Atlanta-area universities and charities and role as goodwill ambassador with the United Nations.
But the two-time Academy Award winner's political activities protesting the Vietnam War, including a trip to North Vietnam in 1972, have long made her a target of veterans of that war.
The measure, which Miles said is one of several she has pushed honoring Georgia women during Women's History Month, had cruised through the Senate on Wednesday before some members realized it was part of a stack of mostly non-controversial resolutions approved because no one objected to them.
Sen. John Douglas, R-Social Circle, later asked that the vote be reconsidered.
"I can think of no living American who is less worthy of this honor," Douglas, chairman of the chamber's Veterans and Military Affairs committee, said Thursday. "She is as guilty of treason as Benedict Arnold and Tokyo Rose."
Miles said she is sympathetic to concerns of military members. She said her brother and ex-husband both served in Vietnam and her daughter currently serves in the Army reserve. But she said Fonda's good works for the past three decades outweigh any negatives associated with her Vietnam-era actions.
"I have a deep and abiding respect and love for our men and women warriors," she said. "We should not ignore the past, but we should not be inextricably bound to its mistakes."
The Senate voted 48-1 to reconsider the measure — a necessary procedure before Miles could withdraw it.
But when the moment came for her to officially withdraw the resolution, a member of the Senate's Republican majority objected, forcing the vote.
Sen. Mitch Seabaugh, R-Sharpsburg, the chamber's majority whip, said several members of his caucus wanted to go on the record against the resolution.
"There was a lot of overreaction on this matter and, because of that, people wanted to make it clear where they stood on it," he said.
Sen. Emanuel Jones, D-Ellenwood, cast the only vote in favor of the resolution.