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Marriage equality Georgia: Lawsuit challenging gay marriage ban filed

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The gay marriage fight has officially made its way to Georgia. According to a report by the Associated Press on April 22, Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of seven people challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. The lawsuit also seeks class action status and names the state registrar, a clerk of the Gwinnett County Probate Court and a Fulton County Probate Court judge as defendants in the federal case.

Currently, the state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage and defines marriage as only the union of a man and a woman as marriage and does not recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. The constitutional ban on gay marriage was voted into law in 2004. As gay rights groups have already unsuccessfully challenged the wording of the ballot question, the current lawsuit filed challenges the ban itself in hopes of having the ban overturned.

The lawsuit states: “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. (I)n time, the American ideal of equality and liberty demanded that our government move past cultural and majority oppressions, however longstanding, in order to secure and fulfill the individual rights of all citizens.”

Shelton Stroman and Chris Inniss, a same-sex couple from Snellville, Ga., are two of the plaintiffs in the federal lawsuit. They want to be treated equally as a couple and are also demanding to be married and attributes their nine-year old adopted son as their motivation. They believe he deserves to be able to say, “my dads are married.” The couple said they could’ve left Georgia and moved to a state where gay marriage is legal, but doesn’t feel they should leave a place that they love. Inniss told WSB, “We live just like any other family. We believe that we should have equal rights.”

Attorney General Sam Olens is expected to defend the Georgia law. With recent rulings against bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, it may be a tall task for Olens, especially with changing attitudes and the momentum marriage equality has gained stemming from the historic Supreme Court ruling last year that struck down key parts of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act.