Georgia faces gay marriage suit

Wednesday, April 23, 2014 7:23 AM
Last updated 8:33 PM
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ATLANTA — A gay rights group filed a federal lawsuit on Tuesday challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven people and seeks class action status. They are suing the state registrar, a clerk of the Gwinnett County Probate Court and a Fulton County Probate Court judge in their official capacities.

“The history of the United States has been defined by the ability of each succeeding generation to recognize that social, economic, political, religious, and historical norms do not define our unalienable rights,” the lawsuit says. “(I)n time, the American ideal of equality and liberty demanded that our government move past cultural and majority oppressions, however long-standing, in order to secure and fulfill the individual rights of all citizens.”

Georgia voters overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage in 2004. Gay rights groups filed lawsuits in state court challenging the wording of the ballot question, but the state Supreme Court ultimately ruled the vote was valid in 2006.

The current lawsuit filed in federal court challenges the ban itself, rather than the ballot wording. Bans in several states have been overturned since a key Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage last year.

The state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage and says that Georgia will recognize only the union of a man and a woman as marriage and that same-sex marriages performed in others states are not legally recognized.

The office of Attorney General Sam Olens will defend State Registrar and Director of Vital Records Deborah Aderhold.

“The Attorney General will fulfill his constitutional obligation to defend Georgia law,” said spokeswoman Lauren Kane.

Fulton County Probate Court Judge Pinkie Toomer’s judicial assistant said the judge has no comment.

Gwinnett County Probate Court Clerk Brook Davidson did not immediately respond to a call seeking comment Tuesday.

Shelton Stroman, 42, and Chris Inniss, 39, a suburban Atlanta couple, are among the plaintiffs in the lawsuit filed Tuesday. They’ve been together for about 13 years, own a pet boarding and daycare business together and adopted their 9-year-old son, Jonathan, as an infant.

“We just want to make sure that other families like ours are treated just like everyone else’s family,” Stroman said in a phone interview. “It’s really hurtful and offensive that the state of Georgia is refusing to treat our families fairly.”

Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the District of Columbia, and Stroman and Inniss have considered going to one of those spots to get married. But they said they’re frustrated that their union would have no legal standing in Georgia, and they still wouldn’t have the state legal benefits of marriage.

The Supreme Court last year found that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, improperly deprived gay couples of due process. That ruling came as polls showed that a majority of Americans now support gay marriage. Lower-court judges have repeatedly cited the Supreme Court decision when striking down same-sex marriage bans. They have ruled against bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

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corgimom 04/24/14 - 08:00 am
stuaby, do you think that

stuaby, do you think that Jean's family is ok with this? Would you want your parent's name on a gravestone, or would you be ok with having your mother's name omitted?

Dixieman 04/24/14 - 09:52 am

Q: How many legs would a dog have if you counted its tail as a leg?
A: Four. Calling a tail a "leg" does not make it one.
Gay "marriage" is an oxymoron.

OJP 04/24/14 - 12:27 pm

The universe hasn't imploded in states and countries where gay marriage is legal because they changed the definition of the term. What exactly is your point? Are you trying to assert that the definitions of words cannot ever be changed?

That's odd - because marriage in the Bible had many more forms than just one man and one woman. Congrats! You just argued FOR polygamy being legalized.

InChristLove 04/24/14 - 12:46 pm
Marriage has always been a

Marriage has always been a husband and a wife. If two men marry, you have a husband and a husband. If two women marry, you have a wife and a wife. Gay marriage will never be "marriage". It can be a union between two people but not a marriage. You can call it marriage but then who determines who the husband and who is the wife.

stuaby 04/24/14 - 09:05 pm
"stuaby, do you think that

"stuaby, do you think that Jean's family is ok with this? Would you want your parent's name on a gravestone, or would you be ok with having your mother's name omitted?"

I missed the part where she was looking for the extra name to be listed. I got the impression that she just wanted the woman in the tomb with her.

Well, it's a tough situation. Your cousin is helping to blaze a trail that others may follow in seamlessly later on.

Stunned 2
Stunned 2 04/25/14 - 08:51 am
Businesses operate on their own Private property

Managers and Employees at Chick-fil-a can pray to Jesus all day, if they choose. Accept it or leave. It's private property. Stores in the Mall can have your harassing butt thrown out if they please. They operate on private property. A bar can throw a patron out for whatever reason. (drunk, fighting, non-payment, whatever). They operate on private property. A baker, operating on private property, can refuse service to a patron for whatever reason they determine is an obstruction to their business. This baker was not able to make a lesbian wedding cake - due to their religious beliefs. That should have been the end to the story, but NO - the Government got involved and the bakery shut down. If someone came in a demanded that the baker made a Giant Penis cake for the local 'Gay Parade', What would be the result? Well, in Oregon - The government can step in and force the bakery to make it or choose to close. (and, this is not a far-fetched example. Gays have entered Giant Penis floats in Gay Parades. They have done nasty marches down the streets of Disney World in front of young children). Where does it end? Next, photographers will be forced to take pictures of gay sex encounters, or close.
A private Business owner should be able to refuse business to anyone they choose, or that they fell is harassing - if they are not discriminating against Race, Religion, Disability, National Origin, Sex (Gender), Ethnicity, Age, Pregnancy). The Government should not be infringing on a business owner's religious rights.
Marriage is institution of God, not the Government's. It is the biblical union between a MAN and a WOMAN. Call it something else - if you want a change. What you are calling 'Same Sex Marriage' will NEVER be a MARRIAGE So many that support this law suit criticize those of us with faith, yet The very thing that they are 'fighting' for, MARRIAGE, is a creation of GOD. Their whole argument is so hypocritical.

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