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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WalterBradfordCannon
1458
Points
WalterBradfordCannon 04/23/14 - 08:41 am
5
4
This lawsuit is effectively

This lawsuit is effectively unstoppable. The court system has consistently interpreted gay marriage lawsuits as equal protection because 1) they are bound by logic and reason, not literal interpretations of scripture and because 2) other states offer these marriage arrangements. It comes down to the marriage arrangement being an issue of states rights for the first state that offers it, and an issue of equal protection for all the rest. I know this won't sit will in the Bible Belt, but the courts have laid a quite unwavering course.

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 09:23 am
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WalterBradfordCannon

I tentatively agree. In the last few years, each court that has looked at this issue has found that there is simply no legal justification for treating same-sex marriage any differently from opposite-sex marriage.

I don't think a positive outcome is inevitable here, but I think there is more than a 50% chance.

Good luck to the plaintiffs, and to all LGBT Georgians!

Dixieman
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Dixieman 04/23/14 - 09:47 am
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Here's what's next:

The wave of (successful) lawsuits is overwhelming the United States and within five years at the most same sex marriage will be the law of the land, imposed by dictatorial judges against the will of the people.
Once the dust has settled from that fight the following will occur:
1. Suits against ministers and churches for refusing to perform gay marriages even though it may contradict their most deeply held religious beliefs.
2. Suits to legalize polygamy and polyandry. After all, what's so sacred and special about the number 2? If I come into court whining that I cannot be in a satisfying personal and emotional marriage with just one other person but need multiple partners, the logic of the gay marriage decisions will compel the courts to recognize my "right" to have multiple partners. Besides, polygamy has a much longer history than gay marriage and is today recognized in more countries than gay marriage is.
Mark my words, these things will happen.

Stunned 2
4345
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Stunned 2 04/23/14 - 10:20 am
3
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An avelanche of lawsuits will follow

Next, Gays will demand to be recognized as a minority - with special benefits. Every time a co-worker refuses to participate in giving a wedding gift to a gay couple - because of religious beliefs - the Gays will demand action against them. The voters of Georgia voted against allowing Gay marriage in this state. This has become a modern culture fad that infringes on American's freedom of religion. This was not an issue until very recent years. Go back and watch David Hyde Piece, on Frazier, making jokes about 'Gays', or Cynthia Nixon, on Sex in the City, poking fun and mockery of the 'Gay' lifestyle. These TV series were filmed in the 1990's and the early part of this century. Both actors have since 'come out' as 'Gay'. The Liberal Courts are allowing fads and special interest groups to harm the basic foundation of this great country. The decision by vote, of the people of Georgia to ban 'Gay Marriage' should be respected and upheld.

Stunned 2
4345
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Stunned 2 04/23/14 - 10:19 am
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Good point, Dixieman: This will affect our ability to worship

Our pastors, priests, and preachers will be pressured to preach the 'Gospel according to Gays'. Churches will be closing down, due to 'Gay' lawsuits. The words of our Clergymen will be limited to what the Gays approve. This issue will affect everyone - Church-goers or not. It will affect you in your workplace, in your place of worship, and in your neighborhood and home.

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 10:35 am
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@Dixieman

Unless you consider the judges who forced an end to segregation and enjoined all laws against interracial marriage as dictatorial, then you may want to reconsider your characterization of the actions of these judges. Then again, most people see a judicial opinion they agree with as "preservation of the Constitution" and one they oppose as "judicial activism", and I don't think you can be convinced - despite the validity of the reasons - that this is the former and not the latter.

As for forcing religious leaders to perform ceremonies - that is not likely to happen. This entire battle is over the civil institution of marriage, not the religious institution. Unless Christians can force an Imam or Rabbi to conduct their religious Christian ceremony, I don't see how a gay couple could do the same for a "gay" ceremony.

As for polygamy and such, I think you may have a point. However, I am not really convinced why the state should be limiting the civil institution of marriage between consenting adults.

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 10:38 am
2
1
@Stunned 2

"Gays will demand to be recognized as a minority - with special benefits." What does this mean? And note, demanding equal benefits is not demanding special benefits.

As for the will of the people, I assume you acknowledge that we do not live in a pure democracy and that the will of the people is not controlling in various circumstances (e.g., religious freedom, humans as property, segregation)?

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 10:40 am
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@Stunned 2

This:

"Good point, Dixieman: This will affect our ability to worship
Our pastors, priests, and preachers will be pressured to preach the 'Gospel according to Gays'. Churches will be closing down, due to 'Gay' lawsuits. The words of our Clergymen will be limited to what the Gays approve. This issue will affect everyone - Church-goers or not. It will affect you in your workplace, in your place of worship, and in your neighborhood and home."

Is chicken-little level paranoia. Do you have anything to back any of this up?

Stunned 2
4345
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Stunned 2 04/23/14 - 11:15 am
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Do your own Research: Here are a few OJP

Oregon ruling really takes the cake -- Christian bakery guilty of violating civil rights of lesbian couple:

http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2014/01/21/christian-bakery-guilty-violat...

'Duck Dynasty' star suspended for anti-gay remarks:

http://www.cnn.com/2013/12/18/showbiz/duck-dynasty-suspension/

Judge Rules Christian facility cannot ban same-sex civil union ceremony on its own premises:

http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/judge-rules-christian-facility-cannot-b...

Stunned 2
4345
Points
Stunned 2 04/23/14 - 12:19 pm
2
2
Repost: I got reported & had to eliminate a sentence

Minorities have received Preferential hiring considerations, Preferential college Admissions, Test scores have been adjusted up for minorities, etc. Special benefits are given to the wieners, not equality.
As for your 2nd comment: Get real. The term 'Diversification' has been shoved down the throats of employees and Americans due to the demands of special interest groups, especially 'Gays'. Diversification is used to openly batter and ridicule American's Christian values. ARE you so consumed in your 'Gay' lifestyle that you don't recognize how others' freedoms are trampled because of your sexual choices? Too bad, sexual choices can't be left out of work places, churches, and neighborhoods.

OJP
6669
Points
OJP 04/23/14 - 03:58 pm
3
4
@Stunned 2

You made the claim, you do the research to back it up. That's how it works. You cannot push that burden onto someone else.

The Oregon and New Jersey rulings are simply about requiring businesses that serve the public to... serve the public. Crazy, right? A cake shop can no more refuse to make a cake for a gay couple than they could refuse to make one for an interracial couple. If you serve the public, you serve the public. Same goes for offering a building for civil marriage ceremonies. If a church offers to lease the building to the public, again, it must offer to lease the building to the public. Banning blacks, Jews, interracial couples, or gays is not permitted by law (and should not be).

As for Duck Dynasty, that decision was 100% made by his boss and had nothing to do with the government. If he said something racially insensitive that threatened to scare away viewers, the network would probably have done the same thing. (I know you probably don't think racial discrimination and LGBT discrimination are equivalent here, but they are. This battle - as any public opinion poll will tell you - is over.)

Stunned 2
4345
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Stunned 2 04/23/14 - 05:02 pm
4
1
The courts are crossing the line of Religious freedom

in the Bakery case and the Wedding venue case. The Court should not have been involved in either case. The government should not require a baker to make lesbian wedding cakes. The government should not demand that a religious venue allow same-sex civil unions. Their religious freedom is being trampled.

This is a comment section for readers to express opinions.
'You made the claim, you back it up': No, I can express my opinion. Your comment is just an arrogant challenge by someone with an opposing view -- that's trying to bully me and others into surrendering our religious beliefs. It didn't work.

stuaby
3903
Points
stuaby 04/23/14 - 06:57 pm
1
3
At this point, the United

At this point, the United States is like a rusted out hulk of a school bus in a junkyard that kids go into to play and pretend that it's moving. The bus IS a bus, but doesn't move/doesn't operate. The U.S. is a sovereign nation, but doesn't move, doesn't operate in accordance to the constitution.

Sure, we have elections. We send people to Washington, D.C., Atlanta, Columbia, etc., but nothing changes--just like the junked bus. People in other states cheat with impunity and minimize what we have to say.

We vote on initiatives, but the votes are nullified by federal courts. We vote, enthusiastically, at the national level, for what makes sense, but the votes are cancelled by people who are in a mind-lock to what comes out of NPR, etc. People promise action on various hot-button issues, but nothing ever changes.

Gay marriage rules. Abortion rules. Dope rules. Income redistribution rules. Anti-Christianity rules. [Insert whatever secular nonsense you can think of here] rules. Just bow down, accept it, shut up and go away. And take your bibles with you.

This is where we are now.

Here is the theme song of the Democrat party now, which rules over you now. Bow Down *******.

http://youtu.be/sJ82j0f9v74

InChristLove
22473
Points
InChristLove 04/23/14 - 07:30 pm
2
1
It may seem far-fetched for

It may seem far-fetched for the US, OJP, but it won't be far off. Reference http://thelibertarianrepublic.com/millionaire-gay-couple-suing-force-chu...

Millionaire gay couple is suing to force a church to hold their wedding.

It's coming to the US, it's not "chicken-little level paranoia".

Dixieman
15013
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Dixieman 04/23/14 - 08:07 pm
2
0
It won't be limited.

Sorry, but I don't buy arguments that say, "Just let us have this one thing and we won't ask for more." Rubbish. Things get extended and extended and there is no end to it. If you don't ask for it, the next set of plaintiffs will.
I can understand that when you sell a cake you have to be open to the public, but there are cases involving wedding photographers who have to pose kissing couples, arrange things on a very personal level, etc. who have been compelled by the courts to service gay couples.
And thanks to OJP for conceding that I have a point on polygamy. Every other supporter of gay rights on here: Please explain to me why court rulings requiring gay marriage would not lead to court rulings requiring recognition of polygamous marriages. The legal reasoning behind the recent gay marriage cases is indistinguishable from legal reason requiring approval of polygamous marriages, and the historical and cultural acceptance of polygamy in the world at large is much, much more prevalent than the acceptance of gay marriage.
There is an old saying: When I was young, homosexuality was forbidden. Now it is tolerated. I hope to pass from this Earth before it becomes compulsory.

Bizkit
31545
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Bizkit 04/23/14 - 08:50 pm
0
2
I wonder when the SCOTUS will

I wonder when the SCOTUS will rule the Democratic Black Caucus of Congress as discriminatory and order them to disband? I hope the Mormons will finally get their due justice and polygamy allowed, then the Rastafarians allowed to smoke pot on religious grounds too. We need less discrimination and more freedoms. I've always supported gay unions but now because they are just like some evangelical christians trying to cram crap down peoples throats I am starting to shift my support. How you get things done is as important as what you get done. I fear lots of people may shift from support and things could get ugly-I guess the gays feel like they can terrorize people like they have been terrorized. Weird world fighting discrimination with discrimination, trying to spend your way out of debt, dang weird. This issue touches families-like my own-where one member is declaring civil war without thinking the people she hates is a lot of her own family-and alienating her family.

Bizkit
31545
Points
Bizkit 04/23/14 - 08:55 pm
0
1
Religions are discriminatory

Religions are discriminatory by nature but also protected too-like are they going to force Jews to believe in Jesus? Muslims, Buddhist, Hindus all have their beliefs. They can discriminate on grounds of their faith-cause of separation of church and state. You couldn't force a pastor to perform a ceremony-I guarantee you a liberal court wouldn't go there. The lack of respect for the courts would drop lower than now and encourage more people to ignore the rule of law-becaue there isn't one.

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 09:02 pm
0
1
@Stunned 2

I simply disagree (and the law agrees with me). If you are open to the public, you are open to the public. Are you suggesting that, for example, the only grocery store for 60 miles that is Muslim owned can refuse to sell groceries to Christians? That's absurd. You can't have a "No Negros" policy and you can't have a "No Fags" policy.

And you claimed it was MY responsibility to source YOUR claims. Sure, you can assert a fact and refuse to source it, but you cannot shift the burden of sourcing on someone who questions it. Calling that out is not "bullying". It's how this works.

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 09:09 pm
0
1
@InChristLove

No. You cannot compare the Church of England, a church led by the Queen, to anything in the U.S. Thankfully, none of our churches are part of the federal government. If one was, yes, it should be forced to conduct ALL weddings.

The fear of forcing churches to conduct gay wedding ceremonies is as reasonable as the fear of forcing churches to perform Muslim wedding ceremonies, synagogues to perform Buddhist wedding ceremonies, mosques to perform Christian wedding ceremonies, etc. Not happening.

But... if one of them opens their building to the public to lease for a ceremony, yes, they must offer it to the entire public.

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 09:12 pm
0
2
@Dixieman

And what of a wedding photographer disgusted by an interracial couple, or an interfaith couple, or a white couple? The rule is simple: serve the public, the entire public.

As for polygamy, sure, the same arguments can be used. And?

Bizkit
31545
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Bizkit 04/23/14 - 09:47 pm
0
1
Restaurants and

Restaurants and photographers-businesses are one thing-and surely discrimination cannot be tolerated by gender, age, ethnicity, or ideology. But church's, synagogues, and religious groups are a different matter and the same rules don't apply-the govt can't dictate a religions beliefs. Now a civil right of civil unions is most obvious-cause any two people should be able to choose someone that will be legally able to handle their health, financial, and legal issues whether the two men are heterosexual or homosexual. iIt isn't based on sexual preferences but the ideals of freedom for two individuals to live as they please. The "marriage" angles stirs up all the christians and is really counterproductive-I would push for the civil union angle-it sounds legal rather than religious.LOL.

Dixieman
15013
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Dixieman 04/23/14 - 10:06 pm
3
0
OJP

It ain't that simple. There is a difference between selling a mass produced commodity (cakes, beer, pencils, etc.) and performing a very personal service requiring a lot of personal interaction.
If you were gay, would you REALLY want your wedding documented by a photographer who said "I don't agree with gay marriage and find gays kissing, hugging, etc. personally distasteful, but since the law says I have to videotape and photograph your wedding I'll do it." I think not. I know I would rather have a photographer who was enthusiastic about my wedding.
And now that you have spotted me polygamy, how about bestiality? Adult incest if the couple agree to be sterilized to prevent genetic problems? Same conclusion? I raise the polygamy issue only because almost all proponents of gay marriage argue "Well, that's not the issue in this case so let's not go there" which I find specious.

OJP
6669
Points
OJP 04/24/14 - 12:04 am
1
1
@Bizkit

We call this "marriage" (the legal relationship, not the religious one):

"Now a civil right of civil unions is most obvious-cause any two people should be able to choose someone that will be legally able to handle their health, financial, and legal issues whether the two men are heterosexual or homosexual."

No need to change words when they mean the same thing. And the religious relationship will - as it should - remain a function of churches and not the government.

OJP
6669
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OJP 04/23/14 - 11:53 pm
0
2
@Dixieman

"If you were gay, would you REALLY want your wedding documented by a photographer who said 'I don't agree with gay marriage and find gays kissing, hugging, etc. personally distasteful, but since the law says I have to videotape and photograph your wedding I'll do it.'"

Nope, which is why this isn't a big deal. There will be some dustup from excited folks on both sides (to put it politely) but overall this is not a practical issue. Today, no restaurant owner loses sleep at night pining to ban black people. But again, it's the same reason that refusing to take wedding photos because the couple is black is wrong (even if you can't see that).

Ok - bestiality doesn't follow because there is a lack of consenting (human) adults. This is also one of the reasons that pedophilia doesn't follow. As for adult incest, I don't see how it's any of my business or your business or the government's business, unless someone's rights are violated (which would be the case if they had a child that was genetically disabled). Sterilization probably isn't the way to go but some safeguards may be necessary.

As for the response that these issues aren't before us, it is valid but not sufficient by itself. We are in the process of coming to an agreement that a certain group of people is being denied fundamental rights, and are working to fix that. We can't do everything at once.

corgimom
32620
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corgimom 04/24/14 - 06:44 am
1
2
This is my cousin, Madelynn Taylor

http://www.boiseweekly.com/boise/idaho-says-no-to-final-resting-place-fo...

Please read this, this is exactly what gay people go through.

What harm would 2 dead lesbians do in a cemetery?

corgimom
32620
Points
corgimom 04/24/14 - 06:47 am
1
2
The paranoia and gloom and

The paranoia and gloom and doom on here is amazing.

Hope the ban is overturned.

corgimom
32620
Points
corgimom 04/24/14 - 06:50 am
1
2
Stunned 2, yes, you are

Stunned 2, yes, you are talking about a CAMPGROUND and one that had a public use exemption permit. As in, PUBLIC.

Oops, gosh darn those pesky laws, and that pesky Constitution!

stuaby
3903
Points
stuaby 04/24/14 - 07:00 am
2
1
"Please read this, this is

"Please read this, this is exactly what gay people go through.
What harm would 2 dead lesbians do in a cemetery?"

Seems like she could have just prearranged for the funeral home to stick the urn in the casket with her. No one would have paid any attention. Surrounding a situation with neon lights isn't always the way to go.

corgimom
32620
Points
corgimom 04/24/14 - 07:58 am
1
1
stuaby, every other veteran

stuaby, every other veteran is allowed to have their spouse buried next to them, with their names on the gravestone.

Why is she any different?

Would you suggest that from a heterosexual couple? Of course not. You would say that they had every right to be buried together, and that the spouse's name be listed on the tombstone. You would say that they are entitled to that.

And so are they.

I knew her wife Jean. She was a wonderful, decent, caring woman. She was the mother of 2 children, she was a responsible, taxpaying citizen, that never did anybody any harm.

Why doesn't she deserve to have her name on a gravestone?

corgimom
32620
Points
corgimom 04/24/14 - 07:59 am
1
2
And why don't they deserve to

And why don't they deserve to be buried like the decent people that they are?

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