Political Insider

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Sam Olens: 'Georgia will follow the law' on same-sex marriage


Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens had petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to let Georgia's vote stand and not institute same-sex marriage across the country.

He lost, and on Friday Olens made clear that Georgia would not stand in the way of the court's ruling.

“Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state.  It does not permit bans on same-sex marriage.

"In our system of government, the Supreme Court bears the ultimate responsibility for determining the constitutionality of our laws. Once the Supreme Court has ruled, its Order is the law of the land. As such, Georgia will follow the law and adhere to the ruling of the Court.”

Gov. Nathan Deal chimed in similarly:

“While I believe that this issue should be decided by the states and by legislatures, not the federal judiciary, I also believe in the rule of law," Deal said in a statement. "The state of Georgia is subject to the laws of the United States, and we will follow them.”

Georgia's Council of Probate Judges is prepared. Judge Chase Daughtrey, the group's president, sends word:

"The Council of Probate Court Judges is reviewing the 100 plus page opinion regarding same sex marriage and we are in consultation with the Attorney General’s office. A revised marriage license application form will be sent electronically to probate judges statewide via our list serve once the review is complete and we find the opinion immediately legalizes same sex marriage in Georgia."

The reaction from Democrats was more gleeful.

Georgia Democratic Party of Georgia Chair DuBose Porter:

“Today is a huge victory not only for advocates of marriage equality, but advocates of basic civil rights. This decision is the culmination of decades’ worth of battles fought to ensure that all families and the love they share are protected and treated equally under the law."

Jeff Graham of Georgia Equality, a gay rights group, called it the "moment we've been waiting for."

"It’s a national victory – and it means that soon, thousands of loving, committed couples throughout the United States – including our state of Georgia – will be able to say 'I do' and at last be respected under the law."

State Sen. Mike Crane, R-Newnan, said he would probe the ruling for "weaknesses" that he and other critics of same-sex marriage could exploit.

"I don't even like that word - ruling. It's an opinion. It's an opinion of five people that stands in absolute contrast to the majority vote by Georgians. We have five members of the Supreme Court trying to set themselves up as the highest authority of the land. And I think they're just wrong."

U.S. Rep. John Lewis, D-Atlanta, endorsed same-sex marriage before it was widely popular -- way back in 2003. He cheered the Supreme Court on Friday:

"This is a great day in America.  The Supreme Court made the right decision today, a decision that is long-overdue.  I have said this for a long time, and I am so glad to see that our nation has finally come to this understanding:  If two men or two women want to fall in love and get married, it is their business.   No government has the right to authorize whom a person should love.  And it is better to love than to hate.

"As a nation, we cannot say we are committed to equality, if we do not mandate equality for every citizen.  You cannot have equality for some in America and not equality for all.  This is another major step down a very long road toward the realization of a fair and just society. We should embrace the decision of the United States Supreme Court.   It is now the law of the land."

Said U.S. Rep. Hank Johnson, D-Lithonia:

“Today’s historic Supreme Court ruling means all Americans – regardless of their gender or gender identity – have the right to marry the person they love,” Johnson said. “It also reaffirms equal protection under the law in accordance with the Fourteenth Amendment. We are all more free when all Americans are treated as equal, no matter who they are or whom they love.”

U.S. Rep. Tom Price, R-Roswell, said the court was wrong to overturn the will of the voters in Georgia and elsewhere:

"Today’s ruling by the Supreme Court serves only as further encouragement to use the court system as a systematic springboard to enact agendas outside the democratic and legislative structures of government. Thirty States have held statewide ballots banning gay marriage since the year 2000, and yet legislating from the bench has superseded both public approval and our elected representatives. This is not only a sad day for marriage, but a further judicial destruction of our entire system of checks and balances.”

U.S. Rep. Doug Collins, R-Gainesville, an ordained Baptist minister, also said the court went too far:

“I am disappointed that the court has overstepped its boundaries once again. Many states have already voted to keep the definition of marriage to one man and one woman, and the court’s decision is a gross infringement on American democracy.

"The court should not have circumvented the will of the people, but as we saw with the King V. Burwell decision yesterday, they are more interested in legislating from the bench than letting the will of the people determine what our laws are going to be. Because this decision has robbed the American people of their freedom of choice, I strongly support a constitutional amendment defining marriage between one man and one woman.”

U.S. Rep. Lynn Westmoreland, R-Coweta County, sounded a similar note:

“I am disappointed by today’s Supreme Court decision on Obergefell v. Hodges, as they chose to rewrite the ancient and biblical definition of marriage and ignore the will of the states. The Constitution does not define marriage and these unelected judges exercised judicial activism by deciding what the Constitution should mean, rather than what it actually says.

"It should be decided by the people of the state through a democratic process; for the 10th amendment guarantees the states and people rights that are not delegated to the federal government by the Constitution. I will continue to fight to protect traditional marriage values, and the religious rights of those who join me in believing that marriage is between a man and a woman.”

A more conciliatory tone came from U.S. Sen. Johnny Isakson, R-Ga.:

“I am disappointed in today’s Supreme Court decision. However I respect the three branches of government and the Court has rendered its decision. Many Americans, including myself, will continue to personally believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

Rep. Jody Hice, R-Monroe, a former talk show host and minister, had this to say:

“For the second day in a row I find myself extremely disappointed in the Supreme Court’s ruling. Unfortunately the Court took it upon itself, in another round of judicial activism, to dictate law that should have been left up to the voters and Representatives of individual states rather than the Supreme Court. I believe we are all God’s children, but according to my faith I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman, and I regret that the Court did not respect the legislative process that respected the beliefs of so many.

"I am incredibly disheartened that the majority of what should be the nation’s celebrated and definitive legal minds, apparently have lost their ability to reason logically or soundly. In choosing not to uphold traditional marriage, these Justices have chosen to ignore the duty of their appointed office to the detriment of the American people and society as a whole. For millennia, marriage has been rightly defined as occurring between one man and one woman. The idea that five 'legal scholars' have decided to overturn every traditional understanding of one holy institution, shows that the Court is now engaging in judicial activism rather than upholding the deliberative and prestigious positions to which they were appointed. The Supreme Court should hold the Constitution as the bedrock of American law. Since marriage is not defined in the Constitution, it should be left to the states to decide, as Georgia did in 2004, in accordance with the 10th Amendment.

"However, in anticipation of this catastrophic decision, I signed on to H.J. Res. 36 in February, along with many of my colleagues, which calls for marriage to be defined as taking place between one man and one woman. Now as a nation, our only remaining recourse is to seek further clarification through the true legislative branch of Government, which is Congress, and not the Courts. I will continue to stand on my principles of faith, rather than willy nilly judicial activism, which is both inherently wrong and abhorrent.”

U.S. Sen. David Perdue, R-Ga., also hit the court for overturning what Georgia voters passed:

“Like many Georgians, I believe in traditional marriage between one man and one woman. My wife Bonnie and I have been married for 42 years. Before today’s ruling, the country was addressing the definition of marriage on a state-by-state basis, as Georgia did when it overwhelmingly passed a constitutional amendment protecting traditional marriage. Today’s ruling shuts down that democratic process and usurps the power of the people. Once again, we see a court that has overstepped its limited constitutional role rather than allow the American people to decide this issue democratically, which is what the Constitution demands.”

From Rep. David Scott, D-Atlanta:

“I applaud this extraordinary and most historic decision by the United States Supreme Court.  This decision reflects the high nobility of purpose of equality and freedom that undergirds the very foundation of our great nation.  It is most fitting that this decision comes as we approach the July Fourth celebration, a time when we celebrate that all of our nation’s people are endowed by our Creator with those inalienable rights of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.”

 


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About the Author

Greg Bluestein is a political reporter who covers the governor's office and state politics for The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.