Federal judge rejects state’s attempt to dismiss gay marriage lawsuit

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U.S District Court Judge William Duffey has rejected the effort by Georgia’s attorneys to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriages.

Duffey issued a ruling Thursday that turned down the request from Attorney General Sam Olens to kill the lawsuit filed against the state last April by the advocacy organization Lambda Legal.

Olens was attempting to kill the federal lawsuit before it even went to trial, a common move in civil proceedings, but the move was squelched by Duffey with Thursday’s ruling.

Georgia is part of a shrinking pool of 14 states that still have a legal prohibition against same-sex marriages. Gay marriage bans in 36 states have been struck down, primarily by federal court decisions.

Duffey, who was appointed to the federal bench by Republican president George W. Bush, rejected the arguments advanced by Olens and his attorneys in support of the constitutional amendment passed by Georgia voters in 2004 that banned gay marriages.

State’s attorneys had argued that the marriage ban “is rationally related to the State’s interests in encouraging procreation and child welfare . . . the State has a legitimate interest in encouraging the raising of children in homes consisting of a married mother and father.”

“These conclusory assertions are not supported by specific facts,” Duffey ruled.

Duffey also wrote that Georgia’s request for dismissal of the lawsuit “does not address how Georgia’s asserted interests in child welfare and procreation are advanced by the State’s prohibition on same-sex marriages, and the State’s refusal to recognize lawful marriages performed in other States.”

The gay rights organization Georgia Equality said of Duffey’s ruling: “While this in no way indicates the judge’s opinion on same-sex marriage, it is encouraging that even one of the more conservative judges in the district is unwilling to accept the state’s tired claim, based on no evidence, that opposite sex couples are better for children.”

© 2015 by The Georgia Report

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Tags: federal lawsuit , gay marriage ban , Sam Olens , William Duffey