On Tuesday, June 26, 2013, the U.S. Supreme Court threw out Section 3 of the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which had denied Federal benefits to same-sex couples. The decision immediately raised the question of whether gay rights advocates will challenge Georgia’s constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
The amendment, passed by the Legislature in 2004 and approved by voters, also bars the recognition of same-sex marriages from states which allow them.
Georgia’s Attorney General Sam Olens, a Republican issued a statement, which says in part: “Today’s decision rests on the basic assumption – with which I strongly agree – that the power to define marriage is a power traditionally reserved to the States. The decision does not affect existing state definitions of marriage; in fact, it explicitly says that it is limited to marriages recognized by states as lawful. I agree with the Chief Justice that this limitation means what it says. The definition of marriage adopted by Georgia’s voters is unaffected by today’s decision.”
Anthony Michael Kreis is an Atlanta attorney, who is also the political co-chair of the Human Rights Campaign-Atlanta. In a conversation with WABE’s Denis O’Hayer, Kreis said the Court’s decision is “the writing on the wall” for an eventual revocation of the state’s gay marriage ban. But he also said he doubts gay rights groups will mount any immediate challenge to the ban—for legal and practical reasons.