Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Gays Get Goodness in Georgia

The evil that is schadenfreude-based ballot initiatives got at least a short-term jolt in Georgia yesterday. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell ruled that the state's 2004 anti-same-sex-marriage amendment is unconstitutional. There is weeping and wailing, cursing and rending of garments on the anti-gay side. Pro-equality folk are very tentatively optimistic.

This might be a harbinger too of similar rulings in other states. Many DOMA-style amendments rushed into their constitutions when they grew fearful that the Massachusetts marriage sensibility of first judges then of the public might (gasp) spread. It isn't the hatefulness of the amendments, rather their sloppy and hurried execution.

Judge Russell ruled that the amendment violated the state's single-subject rule for ballot questions. It stepped over by not defining whether same-sex relationships could have any validity.

Gov. Sonny Perdue spoke the ballot-initiative lingo. "The people of Georgia knew exactly what they were doing when an overwhelming 76% voted in support of this constitutional amendment. It is sad that a single judge has chosen to reverse this decision."

Perhaps if he had taken a civics class somewhere along the line, he'd know that state and federal constitutions permit and require just that. Single judges and superior court justice panels do just that -- protect the public against irrational and unconstitutional laws passed in passion, and often with malice.

Southern Voice has the most detailed coverage here. Its article notes that:
The first sentence of Amendment 1 asked Georgia voters if marriage should be defined as the union between man and woman in the state constitution. The second clause of Amendment 1, which is known as Section B and did not appear on the Nov. 2 ballot, said “no union” between persons of the same sex shall be entitled to “the benefits of marriage.”
Russell was very clear in her ruling, SV reports:
...the test of law is not its popularity.”

“The issues for the people with respect same sex relationships are what status, if any, those relationships will have in the eyes of the law. And if they are afforded legal recognition, how they shall be treated under other laws. Those questions are distinctly different from whether same sex marriages should be allowed or recognized in this state. If the larger questions about same sex relationships are to be considered and answered, they must be presented forthrightly — not as an incidental side note to an entirely different matter,” Russell adds.

Everything is on the table -- appeals, new amendment, blah blah. Georgia Equality is preparing for whatever comes next.

The immediate reaction from the left appears on BlogForDemocracy.

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1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey everybody out there in Mass Marrier Land--somebody surely will come forward so that Mass Marrier can marry another couple this year. Think about it. Isn't it time to pop the question?