Tuesday, May 16, 2006

Georgia Judge Strikes Down Gay Marriage Ban

A Georgia judge has ruled that the state's voter-approved ban on gay marriages is illegal because it addresses two subjects - which is not allowed under the state Constitution.

The article above explains the issue poorly, it seems. Another recent article explains the argument more clearly:

The lawsuit, which does not question whether gay couples should be allowed to marry, focuses on how the issue was presented to the public. The lawsuit maintains that the state’s gay marriage ban, known as Amendment 1, is invalid because it violated the single-subject rule of the state constitution, which prohibits multiple questions being presented to voters in a single proposition.

Opponents of the amendment contend that in addition to establishing a heterosexual definition of marriage, it also prohibits civil unions and domestic partnerships, even though some voters who oppose gay marriage may support alternative legal recognitions for same-sex couples.

The merits of the case notwithstanding, this decision is likely to hurt only Democrats.

The decision is recent and I have seen little coverage of the case so far. However, there are two Georgia Democrats - John Barrow and Jim Marshall - seeking re-election to the House, whom National Journal has rated as among the 20 likeliest takeovers this year. National Journal notes that "as the statewide GOP ticket gets stronger, we're getting more optimistic about the GOP's chances of picking one or both of their Dem targets."

Governor Perdue has announced that he will appeal the decision to the State Supreme Court. If it remains a current issue on election day, then these two Democrats might well be toast. Even the socially-conservative African-American voters who are typically the hard-core base of support in Southern Democratic districts might want to 'send a message.' Given how close the battle for House control is expected to be, Nancy Pelosi might remain Minority Leader again because some Georgia Judge struck a blow for gay marriage.

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