ATLANTA — Gov. Zell Miller gave up his fight Tuesday to remove the Confederate battle emblem from Georgia's flag, blaming extremists on both sides for the lack of support in the Legislature.
"I have given this issue my best and strongest effort," he said in a letter to the House Rules Committee chairman. "I still strongly believe that changing the flag is the right thing to do. However, extremists from both sides have complicated this issue beyond any immediate solution."
The governor did not say whether he will ask the Legislature to consider his proposal next year, but he told the committee's chairman, Bill Lee, not to bring the bill up for a vote now.
"I realize the votes are simply not there to pass my bill. In fact, it is not even close," Miller wrote in the letter, distributed to reporters after the Legislature adjourned Tuesday.
Miller had said the battle emblem should be removed because it is offensive to blacks.
The Democratic governor said he could not support an alternative proposal, approved Friday by the Senate, to put the issue to the voters.
"A referendum may be unconstitutional, would cost more than a million dollars and could prove more divisive than a vote in the Legislature," he said.