GEORGIA: Marriage Lawsuit Advances

Via press release from Lambda Legal:

The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled today to allow Lambda Legal’s case challenging Georgia’s discriminatory marriage ban to proceed. The case was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples and the surviving spouse of a fifth couple — Christopher Inniss and Shelton Stroman of Snellville, Rayshawn Chandler and Avery Chandler of Jonesboro, Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas of Atlanta, Beth and Krista Wurz of Brunswick and Jennifer Sisson of Decatur.

“We are delighted that the Court will allow this case to continue. We look forward to our day in court to demonstrate Georgia’s marriage ban is unconstitutional and relegates the state’s same-sex couples to a second-class status that keeps them and their families vulnerable,” said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

“Today, after the blizzard of rulings over the last few months, Georgia now finds itself in the minority of states continuing to enforce these discriminatory marriage bans.” Borelli said. “Surely, Georgia state officials must see the writing on the wall. Georgians believe in the Southern values of love, honor and family, but as long as the State of Georgia continues to bar same-sex couples from marriage, it devalues these families and reinforces unfairness and discrimination. These families need marriage equality and should not have to live with a law that treats them as inferior.”

But the news isn’t entirely good. Via the Los Angeles Times:

A Georgia federal judge disagreed with nearly every legal argument by four same-sex couples and the surviving member of a fifth couple seeking to marry, but nevertheless found that he could not dismiss their case. U.S. District Judge William S. Duffey Jr. said in an opinion issued late Thursday that the couples do not have a fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex, but he disagreed that Georgia’s “interests in child welfare and procreation are advanced by the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages.” The state filed a motion in August seeking to have the cased tossed out. Duffey’s ruling means the Georgia case can proceed to trial. But much of his decision centered on the deficiencies of the same-sex couples’ arguments. He declined, for instance, to “extrapolate a fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex. … The court concludes that the Supreme Court’s decisions regarding the fundamental right to marry are confined to members of the opposite sex—a conclusion that is confirmed by the decisions of the Supreme Court.”

Read the ruling.