Wednesday, May 17, 2006

Ban Banned

Those rascally activist judges

A judge on Tuesday struck down Georgia’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004 violated a rule that limits ballot questions to a single subject.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell said the state’s voters must first decide whether same-sex relationships should have any legal status before they can be asked whether to ban same-sex marriages.

“People who believe marriages between men and women should have a unique and privileged place in our society may also believe that same-sex relationships should have some place — although not marriage,” she wrote.

The single-subject rule in the state constitution “protects the right of those people to hold both views and reflect both judgments by their vote,” the judge said.

Such procedural requirements “rarely enjoy popular support,” she said, but they “ensure that the actions of government are constrained by the rule of law.”


Gov. Sonny Perdue said the decision ran counter to the voice of Georgia voters in defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman.

“The people of Georgia knew exactly what they were doing when an overwhelming 76 percent voted in support of this constitutional amendment,” he said. “It is sad that a single judge has chosen to reverse this decision.”

Perdue said the state is considering its options, which include appealing directly to the Georgia Supreme Court.

I’ll let the lawyers among you out there to parse the decision according to the finer points of law, but what this decision seems to say is that the people of Georgia should have been allowed to decide whether or not gay couples were entitled to any form of legally recognized relationship, i.e. civil unions as defined in Vermont, before they voted for or against gay marriage, i.e. the law in Massachusetts.

Gov. Perdue seems to think that if the majority of voters want something, they should get it, regardless of the finer points of state constitutional law.

This is why we have a judicial branch… and why Gov. Perdue is planning on finding an activist judge who thinks the way he does.