ATLANTA (BP)–Georgia’s Supreme Court refused Oct. 26 to take a constitutional marriage amendment off the ballot, giving pro-family groups in that state a significant victory in the debate over same-sex “marriage.”
In a 5-2 ruling the justices said they lacked the authority to interfere with the process until the amendment passes. Court action, therefore, is still possible, but only after the Nov. 2 election.
“The sole question raised by this case is whether the judiciary is authorized to interfere in the constitutional amendment process, and prevent the voters from expressing their approval or disapproval of the proposal which their elected representatives, by a two-thirds vote of each house of the General Assembly, have determined should be submitted to them,” the majority opinion read.
Lawyers for homosexual activists groups — such as Lambda Legal — argued that the amendment deals with multiple issues and violates the Georgia Constitution’s “single subject rule” that permits only one subject per amendment.
Georgia’s amendment bans both same-sex “marriage” and Vermont-type civil unions. Pro-family leaders assert that marriage and civil unions incorporate one issue and that the amendment does not violate the state Constitution.
In a statement Lambda Legal indicated it would file suit after the election — assuming the amendment passes.
“Today’s ruling doesn’t say whether the proposed amendment is constitutional. We believe the amendment clearly violates the Constitution, and the court did not disagree. All the court said today is that this should stay on the ballot and face a constitutional test if it passes,” Jack Senterfitt, senior staff attorney with Lambda Legal’s southern regional office, said in a statement.
Georgia is one of 11 states that will vote on marriage amendments Nov. 2. All are in reaction to events in Massachusetts, where that state’s high court issued a ruling last November legalizing same-sex “marriage.” The ruling took effect in May.
State constitutional amendments tie the hands of state courts, preventing Massachusetts-type rulings. But they can be overturned in federal court. For that reason, pro-family leaders are pushing for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
For more information about the national debate over same-sex “marriage,” visit www.bpnews.net/samesexmarriage.