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Taco John
05-17-2006, 02:39 AM
Judge Strikes Down Ga. Ban on Gay Marriage By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer
Tue May 16, 9:20 PM ET

ATLANTA - A judge on Tuesday struck down Georgia's ban on same-sex marriage, saying a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004 violated a rule that limits ballot questions to a single subject.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell said the state's voters must first decide whether same-sex relationships should have any legal status before they can be asked whether to ban same-sex marriages.

"People who believe marriages between men and women should have a unique and privileged place in our society may also believe that same-sex relationships should have some place although not marriage," she wrote.

The single-subject rule in the state constitution "protects the right of those people to hold both views and reflect both judgments by their vote," the judge said.

Such procedural requirements "rarely enjoy popular support," she said, but they "ensure that the actions of government are constrained by the rule of law."

The decision had been eagerly awaited by gay-rights supporters who filed the challenge in November 2004, soon after the ban was approved.

Jack Senterfitt of the gay-rights organization Lambda Legal said the ruling "protects the right of voters to make independent decisions on each independent issue."

Gov. Sonny Perdue said the decision ran counter to the voice of Georgia voters in defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

"The people of Georgia knew exactly what they were doing when an overwhelming 76 percent voted in support of this constitutional amendment," he said. "It is sad that a single judge has chosen to reverse this decision."

Perdue said the state is considering its options, which include appealing directly to the Georgia Supreme Court.

Perdue spokesman Dan McLagan would not say if other options include calling a special session of the Legislature to place a revised question on the ballot in time for the November election.

If that happens, gay-rights activists said they are prepared.

"This is something that could be addressed in the next regular session if need be," said Chuck Bowen, director of Georgia Equality, the state's largest gay-advocacy organization. "But we're prepared for whatever the results are."

http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20060517/ap_on_re_us/georgia_gay_marriage;_ylt=Ar6cqAaJApEh.PCXd59NN.Ws0NUE;_ylu=X3oDMTA2Z2szazkxBHNlYwN0bQ--

Taco John
05-17-2006, 02:42 AM
This guy is going to take criticism, but he's doing the Anti-Gay contingent a favor here by first making the voters determine whether or not Gay relationships should be allowed any legal status whatsoever, let alone marraige rights.

Basically, she's breaking it down to it's simplest issues and letting the state determine its course from fundamental building blocks.

jAZ
05-17-2006, 08:20 AM
Such procedural requirements ... "ensure that the actions of government are constrained by the rule of law."
What's that?

Amnorix
05-17-2006, 09:33 AM
I'm not familiar with the law in this area, to say the least, especially as to how it's applied in Georgia, but it seems like a pretty silly interpretation and a hyper-technicality.

I'm in favor of civil unions, at the very least, so my sympathies lie more on the judge's side, but I still dont' quite get the ruling. Seems like any question on a ballot could be broken down into a yet further question.

Baby Lee
05-17-2006, 09:43 AM
The text of the bill would've shed some light on the assertions in the article. Wonder why it wasn't included, or linked.

WoodDraw
05-17-2006, 09:55 AM
The ban wasn't struck down based on the legality of banning gay marriage, but because of problems with the amendment itself. Georgia, like a lot of states, requires the constitutional amendments only address one issue. The judge here ruled that gay marriage and the recognition of gays having any union rights at all were two seperate issues.

Boozer
05-17-2006, 09:55 AM
The text of the bill would've shed some light on the assertions in the article. Wonder why it wasn't included, or linked.

It looks like this is a new section of the constitution, i.e., not an altered preexisting section:
Art I, Section IV, Para. I :
(a) This state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state.


(b) No union between persons of the same sex shall be recognized by this state as entitled to the benefits of marriage. This state shall not give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state or jurisdiction respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state or jurisdiction. The courts of this state shall have no jurisdiction to grant a divorce or separate maintenance with respect to any such relationship or otherwise to consider or rule on any of the parties' respective rights arising as a result of or in connection with such relationship.


Looks to me like it (1) bans gay marriage; and (2) bans civil unions between gays. I think everyone can agree that those are two different issues, heck, I think many (most?) posters on here are in favor of civil unions, but not marriage, for gays.

jAZ
05-17-2006, 10:28 AM
what exactly is the difference between a marriage and a civil union (from a legal standpoint)?

Boozer
05-17-2006, 10:42 AM
what exactly is the difference between a marriage and a civil union (from a legal standpoint)?
Warning: I'm not an expert in this area (or any area, for that matter).
Well, the whole concept of "civil union" is pretty new. It could be anything from a separate but equal marriage for gays, to enforceable contract rights. The main effect, I think, of provisions like (b) here is that they direct courts not to give effect to private agreements.

That is, in a perfect freedom of contract world, Joe and Moe could have their own "civil union" contract even in the absence of any statute allowing it. They could sign a contract that would provide "a judge of the home state shall divide property and provide for separate maintanence as is done for married couples under Georgia statutes XX-XX...." Then, when they want to break up, Joe could sue Moe and have the judge apply Georgia's property division and alimony rules to them. Subsection (b), and provisions like that, specifically outlaw that.

WoodDraw
05-17-2006, 10:59 AM
what exactly is the difference between a marriage and a civil union (from a legal standpoint)?

The amendment bans gay marriage, and then says you can't get around it by coming up with a different word for gay marriage. The judge ruled that the people have the right to decide on gay marriage and civil unions seperately. Legally there wouldn't be much of a difference, but socially there is a large group who supports some level of civil unions but not gay marriage.

Logical
05-17-2006, 08:09 PM
I'm not familiar with the law in this area, to say the least, especially as to how it's applied in Georgia, but it seems like a pretty silly interpretation and a hyper-technicality.

I'm in favor of civil unions, at the very least, so my sympathies lie more on the judge's side, but I still dont' quite get the ruling. Seems like any question on a ballot could be broken down into a yet further question.My thoughts are that if you put two somewhat related subjects into one law you could make one so odious that the law would be rejected out of hand, meanwhile you outlaw something else in the process on the weight of the single issue. As BL pointed out without the wording of the law voted on it is not possible to judge the decision.