Same-sex marriage in Georgia (U.S. state)

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Legal status of same-sex unions

* Not yet in effect, but automatic deadline set by judicial body for same-sex marriage to become legal

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Same-sex marriage was legalized in the U.S. state of Georgia on June 26, 2015, by the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. Attorney General Sam Olens said Georgia would "adhere to the ruling of the Court".[1] The first couple wed just minutes after the ruling was handed down.[2]

Previously, Georgia banned same-sex marriage both by statute and by constitutional amendment.[3]

Recognition of same-sex unions[edit]

Same-sex marriage has been recognized in Georgia since June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court of the United States declared all same-sex marriage bans unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges. All Georgia counties began immediately (or were either willing to) issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[4]

Map of Georgia counties and cities that offer domestic partner benefits either county-wide or in particular cities.
  City offers domestic partner benefits
  County-wide partner benefits through domestic partnership
  County or city does not offer domestic partner benefits

Prior to the Obergefell decision, there was no state-level legal recognition of same-sex marriages, such having been prohibited by Georgia Constitutional Amendment 1 in 2004. A few municipal entities, such as Atlanta, maintained a domestic partnerships registry for city employees who were in both same-sex and opposite-sex cohabiting couples.[5]

Federal Lawsuits[edit]

Inniss v. Aderhold[edit]

On April 22, 2014, three same-sex couples and a widow filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on behalf of themselves and all unmarried same-sex Georgia couples and all Georgia residents who have married same-sex spouses in other jurisdictions. They later added another couple. Two of the four couples had married in other states, Connecticut and New Hampshire. The suit, Inniss v. Aderhold, named Deborah Aderhold, State Registrar and Director of Vital Records, as the principal defendant. District Court Judge William S. Duffey Jr. was considering the defendants' motion to dismiss.[6] Defendants argued for an extension to file their briefs because of the volatility of cases around the country. Judge Duffey granted an extension to October 22, 2014.

On January 8, 2015, Judge Duffey denied the defendants' motion to dismiss.[7] He found that the plaintiffs were asserting they had a fundamental right to marry a person of the same sex, which is not a right protected by the Due Process Clause of the U.S. Constitution. Since a fundamental right was not at issue, he explained he would assess Georgia's ban under the least restrictive standard of review, rational basis. He denied the motion because the state defendants had not yet met the rational basis standard by explaining the link between Georgia's ban on same-sex marriage and the state's interest in "child welfare and procreation".[8]

On January 20, 2015, the defendants asked Judge Duffey to suspend proceedings until the U.S. Supreme Court rules in pending same-sex marriage cases,[9] and the plaintiffs supported that request on January 27.[10] On January 29, the court suspended some proceedings, but allowed the parties to appeal his earlier order to the Eleventh Circuit, so that court would have a wider set of arguments to consider along with the Florida case, Brenner v. Scott.


The case was the subject of dispute in the 2014 re-election campaign of Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, who was defending the state's position, and his opponent Greg Hecht, who advocated not defending the state's ban on marriage rights for same-sex couples.[6] Olens was re-elected.

Public opinion[edit]

According to the Public Religion Research Institute (PRRI), in 2015 and 2016, respectively, 45% and 51% of Georgia residents supported same-sex marriage.[11][12]

Others polls, notably one conducted by The Atlanta Journal-Constitution in 2013, have shown that Millennials overwhelmingly support same-sex marriage, while those above 65 are mostly opposed.[13]

In 2017, the PRRI found that 52% of Georgians supported same-sex marriage, while 39% opposed it and 9% didn’t know.[14]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Bluestein, Greg (June 26, 2015). "Sam Olens: 'Georgia will follow the law' on same-sex marriage". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved June 29, 2015.
  2. ^ "Next steps for a same-sex marriage in Georgia". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. June 26, 2015. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  3. ^ "2016 Georgia Code :: Title 19 - Domestic Relations :: Chapter 3 - Marriage Generally :: Article 1 - General Provisions :: § 19-3-3.1. Marriages between persons of same sex prohibited; marriages not recognized". Justia. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  4. ^ Bluestein, Greg (June 29, 2015). "Top Georgia court official: Judges 'are following the law' on gay marriages". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved April 6, 2019.
  5. ^ Shirley Franklin and Cathy Woolard (June 3, 2003). "Mayor franklin weighs in on behalf of domestic partnership benefits for fulton county employees". City of Atlanta. Archived from the original on April 29, 2011.
  6. ^ a b Saunders, Patrick (September 8, 2014). "Lambda Legal responds to Olens motion to dismiss Georgia marriage equality suit". GA Voice. Retrieved October 15, 2014.
  7. ^ Sheinen, Aaron Gould (January 8, 2016). "Judge allows challenge to state's marriage ban to move forward". Atlanta Journal-Constitution. Retrieved January 8, 2015.
  8. ^ "Opinion and Order". U.S. District Court for Northern Georgia. Retrieved January 8, 2016.
  9. ^ "Defendants' Unopposed Motion to Stay Proceedings". U.S. District Court for Northern Georgia. Retrieved January 20, 2015.
  10. ^ "Plaintiffs' Response to Motion to Stay Proceedings". U.S. District Court for Northern Virginia. Retrieved January 27, 2015.
  11. ^ PRRI: American Values Atlas 2015
  12. ^ PRRI: American Values Atlas 2016
  13. ^ AJC poll: Support for gay marriage in Georgia is growing
  14. ^ PRRI: American Values Atlas 2017