The Social Aspect
Georgia is not a state that most would consider socially or politically open-minded and for the most part, that is how same-sex marriage and lifestyle have not been exceptions to this way of thinking. Atlanta, one of the south’s larger cities, does in fact have a “vibrant community of gay, lesbian and transgender people,” not to mention the annual gay pride celebration in October which is said to be one of the country’s biggest.
But, it is pretty clear that even right outside Atlanta in the suburbs (and the rest of Georgia), the acceptance of LGBTQ individuals is not present. Mr. Rafshoon, the gay owner of a bookstore and coffee shop, Outwrite, confirms that Atlanta is an anomaly within the context of the rest of the state.
The Winshape Foundation, the charity branch of Chik-fil-A, is an example of local resistance to gay marriage; the foundation has donated large sums of money to national organizations that fight against the gay marriage.
Mr. Rafshoon who says he is “so happy the country is moving forward,” recognizes–as do many others–that contrary to national trends, “there is the sobering reality that in Georgia it’s going to be a very long time until [gay marriage] happens.”
Churches have also been major players in fighting against gay rights, particularly gay marriage.
The State Constitution
It should come as no surprise that gay marriage is in fact illegal in Georgia because marriage is defined as a union between one woman and one man. The Georgia Constitution reads as follows:
(a) It is declared to be the public policy of this state to recognize the union only of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state.
(b) No marriage between persons of the same sex shall be recognized as entitled to the benefits of marriage. Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex pursuant to a marriage license issued by another state or foreign jurisdiction or otherwise shall be void in this state. Any contractual rights granted by virtue of such license shall be unenforceable in the courts of this state and the courts of this state shall have no jurisdiction whatsoever under any circumstances to grant a divorce or separate maintenance with respect to such marriage or otherwise to consider or rule on any of the parties’ respective rights arising as a result of or in connection with such marriage
(b)(1) No marriage license shall be issued to persons of the same sex.
The Court’s Decision on the Matter
Lambda Legal and the ACLU of Georgia filed a lawsuit against a proposed state amendment to ban same-sex marriage. Judge Constance C. Russell’s ruling in 2006 struck down the amendment to define marriage as between a man and a woman, ban same-sex civil unions and any performed elsewhere that would not be recognized by Georgia. Judge Russell’s decision was because of a technicality, or, “procedural flaws in the wording of the amendment.” His defense was that “people who believe marriages between men and women should have a unique and privileged place in our society may also believe that same-sex relationships should have some place, although not marriage… the single-subject rule protects the right of those people to hold both views and reflect both judgments by their vote.” Thus, gay marriage is not allowed because marriage is strictly defined, but, there is not an explicit ban on gay marriage.
- Can same-sex couples marry in Georgia? No, but same-sex marriage is not actually banned.
- Are same-sex marriages or unions performed elsewhere recognized in Georgia? No.