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Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

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Georgia Supreme Court Upholds Anti-Gay Marriage Amendment

by 365Gay.com Newscenter Staff

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(Atlanta, Georgia) The Georgia Supreme Court Thursday overturned a lower court ruling and reinstated the a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage.

In a unanimous ruling the court said that the ban did not violate the state's single-subject rule for ballot measures.

The amendment was passed in 2004 by 76 percent of voters. Lambda Legal filed suit alleging the question put to the electorate was itself unconstitutional.

The suit said that the Georgia Constitution requires ballot initiatives pose a single subject at a time to voters, rather than covering multiple issues.

Lambda argued that the question had multiple issues, including the definition of marriage, the prohibition of the recognition of other types of unions between same-sex couples, an attempt to limit the jurisdiction of Georgia courts, and an attempt to limit the full faith and credit given to judgments and other proceedings from other states.

In May, Superior Court Judge Constance Russell, of Fulton County, agreed and tossed out the amendment.

Russell did not rule on issues related to gay marriage, but held instead that the measure violated the single-subject rule mandated by the state Constitution by asking voters to consider both same-sex marriage and civil unions.

The state appealed to the high court.

"To constitute a plurality of subject matter, an Act must embrace two or more dissimilar and discordant subjects that by no fair intendment can be considered as having any logical connection with or relation to each other." the state argued.

"The parts of the amendment are germane to one another and their common purpose of prohibiting same sex marriages in Georgia."

The high court agreed with the state's assessment. Even if the court had upheld the lower court ruling it would not have meant same-sex couples could marry in Georgia. The state has a so-called Defense of Marriage Act, enacted in 1996.

Gov. Sonny Perdue had given the court until Aug. 7 to rule. If it did not rule by then, or had upheld Russell's decision, he vowed to call a special session of the state Legislature to get the issue back on the ballot for the November election.

?365Gay.com 2006

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