Attorney General Sam Olens has asked a federal judge to dismiss the lawsuit that challenges Georgia’s constitutional prohibition against same-sex marriages.
Olens argued that even though national attitudes towards same-sex marriages are changing, overturning Georgia’s constitutional ban would be “conformity of compulsion” by the federal courts.
Olens’ arguments were contained in the state’s response to a lawsuit filed in U.S. District Court in Atlanta last April by the advocacy organization Lambda Legal, which seeks to overturn the same-sex marriage ban passed as a constitutional amendment by the state’s voters in 2004.
Lambda Legal’s lawsuit argues that the gay marriage prohibition unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and sends a message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens.
Olens conceded that public attitudes on the gay marriage issue have been changing in recent years – but that still does not justify overturning Georgia’s prohibition.
“At their core, Plaintiffs’ claims are about where the law is headed, not about where it is now,” Olens argued. “Plaintiffs may well be right that our nation is headed for a new national equilibrium on same-sex marriage. Indeed, in the last several years, at least eleven states have decided to expand their definition of marriage to include same-sex couples through the democratic process.”
“And it seems as though each month new opinion polls are released showing increased public support for such changes in additional states,” Olens said. “But judicially imposing such a result now would merely wrest a potentially unifying popular victory from the hands of supporters and replace it instead with the stale conformity of compulsion.”
Olens said the state’s gay marriage ban does not violate the U.S. Constitution’s equal protection clause.
“Georgia’s marriage laws do not treat persons of different sex differently; rather, the law treats persons of different sex the same and prohibits men and women from doing the same thing – that is, marrying an individual of the same sex,” Olens contended.
“There is no indication that either sex, as a class, is disadvantaged by Georgia’s marriage laws. The law simply states that opposite-sex couples can marry, while same-sex couples cannot,” Olens said.
© 2014 by The Georgia Report