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Thread: Court strikes down Georgia Gay Marriage Ban

  1. #1
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    Default Court strikes down Georgia Gay Marriage Ban

    http://www.oxfordpress.com/news/cont..._0517_COX.html

    On a technicality...Georgia's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was struck down in Fulton County Superior Court because it violated the "single-subject" rule: ballot initiatives must pertain to a single subject and this one covered both marriage and civil unions.

    Here in Seattle, we refer to that as "the Tim Eyman trap".

    Tim Eyman is a local watch salesman who has a hobby of putting initiatives on the ballot. Mostly, they get voted in and pretty quickly get struck down as violations of the same "single subject" restriction on ballot initiatives.

    You'd think he (and these guys) would have their lawyers go over the initiative language before filing it for the ballot.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

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    Why do you describe the defect as a technicality?

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    Because the court didn't look at the issues regarding gay marriage -- the court ruled only that the proposition placed before the voters violated the "single subject" requirement for such: The single initiative conflated two separate subjects, A and B. Had two separate initiatives been filed for the ballot, one addressing issue A and the other addressing issue B, all would have been fine.

    Since it shouldn't didn't meet the requirements to be placed on the ballot in the first place, the vote is null and void.
    You would not enjoy Nietzsche, sir. He is fundamentally unsound. P.G. Wodehouse (Carry On, Jeeves)

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    Nicholas got it right. The ruling was not on the merits of the amendment itself, just whether or not it met the statutory requirements of a state constitutional amendment.

    The Gov is already talking special session of the legislature to put together a new amendment if the State Supreme Court does not quickly rule on the State's appeal of this ruling.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Carey
    You'd think he (and these guys) would have their lawyers go over the initiative language before filing it for the ballot.
    Heh. I'd say, "You'd think elected officials would respect the wishes of the voters and not immediately file suit against their initiatives."

    Oh... I also agree with you.

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    IIRC, I think someone filed suit on the same grounds before the election. The court ruled they couldn't strike something from the ballot, they could only rule after it had passed. I think the courts argument was that striking the measure from the ballot would be like asking them to rule on the constitutionality of a bill that had passed the legislature but was not yet signed by the governor. Opponents of the measure were bitterly dissappointed at the court's decision, knowing that it would pass overwhelmingly. Which it did.

    As for the legislature, well... Let's just say that politics doesn't always attract the best and brightest, and that's not just here in Georgia.
    Last edited by John Bell; 05-17-2006 at 10:49 PM.

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    Quote Originally Posted by Nicholas Carey
    On a technicality...Georgia's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage was struck down in Fulton County Superior Court because it violated the "single-subject" rule: ballot initiatives must pertain to a single subject and this one covered both marriage and civil unions.
    Seems to imply that marriage & civil unions are two different things. Since definitions are apparently so gosh darn important, that seems to be a substantial ruling.

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    No, not really. The state law says that constitutional amendments have to be approved by the voters and the such amendments are limited to pertain to a single subject only. The court ruled that this amendment dealt with two subjects, and therefore violated the state constitution. All that's going to happen is that there will now be two amendments on our ballots in the next election, which will verly likely pass with a wide margin of victory. Only then can opponents file suit to have the constitionality of the laws themselves examined. It's not a substiantial ruling, just a mild detour for the real battle yet to be waged.

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    USSC has said that laws that enshrine bigotry may not stand. This one may not even pass the religious smell test.
    If you don't think for yourself, someone else will do it for you!

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    The amendment in question:
    SECTION IV.
    MARRIAGE
    Paragraph I. Recognition of marriage. (a) This state shall recognize as marriage only
    the union of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in
    this state.
    (b) No union between persons of the same sex shall be recognized by this state as entitled
    to the benefits of marriage. This state shall not give effect to any public act, record, or
    judicial proceeding of any other state or jurisdiction respecting a relationship between persons
    of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state or jurisdiction.
    The courts of this state shall have no jurisdiction to grant a divorce or separate
    maintenance with respect to any such relationship or otherwise to consider or rule on any
    of the parties' respective rights arising as a result of or in connection with such relationship.


    What the state constitution says about amendments to itself:


    SECTION I.
    CONSTITUTION, HOW AMENDED
    Paragraph I. Proposals to amend the Constitution; new Constitution. Amendments to
    this Constitution or a new Constitution may be proposed by the General Assembly or by a
    constitutional convention, as provided in this article. Only amendments which are of general
    and uniform applicability throughout the state shall be proposed, passed, or submitted
    to the people.
    Paragraph II. Proposals by the General Assembly; submission to the people. A proposal
    by the General Assembly to amend this Constitution or to provide for a new
    Constitution shall originate as a resolution in either the Senate or the House of
    Representatives and, if approved by two-thirds of the members to which each house is entitled
    in a roll-call vote entered on their respective journals, shall be submitted to the electors
    of the entire state at the next general election which is held in the even-numbered years. A
    summary of such proposal shall be prepared by the Attorney General, the Legislative
    Counsel, and the Secretary of State and shall be published in the official organ of each county
    and, if deemed advisable by the "Constitutional Amendments Publication Board," in not
    more than 20 other newspapers in the state designated by such board which meet the qualifications
    for being selected as the official organ of a county. Said board shall be composed
    of the Governor, the Lieutenant Governor, and the Speaker of the House of Representatives.
    Such summary shall be published once each week for three consecutive weeks immediately
    preceding the day of the general election at which such proposal is to be submitted. The
    language to be used in submitting a proposed amendment or a new Constitution shall be in
    such words as the General Assembly may provide in the resolution or, in the absence thereof,
    in such language as the Governor may prescribe. A copy of the entire proposed amendment
    or of a new Constitution shall be filed in the office of the judge of the probate court of
    each county and shall be available for public inspection; and the summary of the proposal
    shall so indicate. The General Assembly is hereby authorized to provide by law for additional
    matters relative to the publication and distribution of proposed amendments and
    summaries not in conflict with the provisions of this Paragraph.
    If such proposal is ratified by a majority of the electors qualified to vote for members
    of the General Assembly voting thereon in such general election, such proposal shall
    become a part of this Constitution or shall become a new Constitution, as the case may be.
    Any proposal so approved shall take effect as provided in Paragraph VI of this article. When
    more than one amendment is submitted at the same time, they shall be so submitted as to
    enable the electors to vote on each amendment separately, provided that one or more new
    articles or related changes in one or more articles may be submitted as a single amendment.

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    This state shall not give effect to any public act, record, or
    judicial proceeding of any other state or jurisdiction respecting a relationship between persons
    of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state or jurisdiction.
    Ewps - that's a violation of the "full faith and credit" provision of the federal Constitution, DOMA notwithstanding (it too is unconstitutional for the same reason, although not yet challenged).
    Last edited by Meerkat; 05-18-2006 at 02:19 PM.
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  12. #12
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    That's where the battle lies. It'll be interesting to watch when it gets to that point, and it will. If the USSC strikes this or similar laws, don't be so sure that a drive to amend the US Constituion would not find traction.

    I'm not in favor of same sex marriages, but nor am I in favor of Constitutional amendments that limit the rights of the people. The Constititution exists to limit and define the role of government and protect the rights of the people. 'Tis quite gray...

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    I sincerely doubt that the "drive" to amend the federal Constitution would gain traction. Even if it did, I doubt it would be ratified by 37 states.

    We may soon find out: as part of the "get out the vote" legislative agenda of the Rips, "morality" issues will be up in Congress again this year.
    If you don't think for yourself, someone else will do it for you!

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