Georgia women lawyers group backs same-sex marriage after staying out of fight two years ago

What a difference two years can make.

The Georgia Association for Women Lawyers is poised to sign on to an amicus brief urging the U.S. Supreme Court to rule in favor of same-sex marriage after refusing to do so in 2013.

The GAWL board voted Feb. 13 in favor of signing onto the brief written by law firm Munger, Tolles & Olson, a California-based law firm. Munger, Tolles & Olson intends to submit the brief to the Supreme Court before April when it is expected to hear arguments to make same-sex marriage legal.

In 2013, Munger, Tolles & Olson sought the support of GAWL in its brief to show support for the Supreme Court to strike down the Defense of Marriage Act [SCOTUS struck down a major portion of it], but the organization, in a controversial decision, voted not to support the brief because as, at least one lesbian member said, it believed to do so was to make a political statement.

This year, however, after changing its bylaws and reviewing its decision from 2013, GAWL is ready to show its support for same-sex marriage.

“After the last two years, we’ve gotten a strong indication from our membership that this is an important issue, and and as a women’s bar association, we have an obligation to be a part of this conversation and support the equal rights of our members,” Cindy Manning, president of GAWL, told the Fulton Daily Report.

In 2013, GAWL past president and lesbian Lindsay Verity resigned her position after GAWL would not sign onto the brief. She told the Georgia Voice that many members saw the issue as a political issue rather than a civil rights issue.

“It felt like a slap in the face. They didn’t recognize it was a big deal. This is my life,” Verity told the Georgia Voice at the time.

The Atlanta Bar Association again voted unanimously to sign onto the brief in support of same-sex marriage. In 2013, the board did not hesitate to do so, and its president, Lynn Roberson, said at the time the group wanted to ensure it was on the right side of history.

Roberson, also a GAWL member, played a role in the group’s decision this year to support the brief. According to the Daily Report:

Lynn Roberson, a GAWL member who was president of the Atlanta Bar when it joined Munger Tolles & Olsons’ brief two years ago, said she addressed GAWL’s board in support of joining the amicus on Friday. From the Daily Report:

“I told them that I … saw the issue of equality as one of civil rights, even though many people see it as a partisan political issue,” said Roberson, a civil defense lawyer with Swift Currie in Atlanta. “I urged them to support equality, because, frankly, giving women the right to vote was a partisan political issue back in the day.”

“I think that their leadership recognized that their decision last time to basically not make a decision—to basically say we’re going to stay out of the fray—was perceived by some to be a decision not to support equality, which was not a message they intended to send,” Roberson continued. “I think they realized that they needed to say either yea or nay.”