Lambda Legal cites Arkansas, Mississippi decisions in Georgia gay marriage case

Attorneys for the plaintiffs in Georgia’s federal class action lawsuit challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban have confirmed to the GA Voice that they will file a notice of supplemental authority with the court today citing Tuesday’s federal court decisions striking down similar bans in Arkansas and Mississippi.

Judges in both of those cases stated that the marriage bans violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, which has been the most effective argument in striking down same-sex marriage bans across the country. The Mississippi case was filed by the Campaign for Southern Equality, who came to Decatur last January as activists applied for marriage licenses but were denied.

Lambda Legal senior attorney Tara Borelli with plaintiffs Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas at a recent event. (file photo)
Lambda Legal senior attorney Tara Borelli with plaintiffs Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas at a recent event. (file photo)

However, attorneys on the other side of the aisle have filed their own notice of supplemental authority (see filing below) citing the one federal court decision that bucked the trend—the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals decision earlier this month upholding same-sex marriage bans in Ohio, Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee. Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens submitted that filing on behalf of state registrar Deborah Aderhold on Nov. 24.

“The decisions yesterday we think show what an outlier the Sixth Circuit decision was,” says Lambda Legal senior attorney Tara Borelli. “The Sixth Circuit decision boils down to the view that the courts shouldn’t interfere with the political process. The Mississippi court expressly disagreed with the Sixth Circuit by saying that the role of the courts is to enforce constitutional rights not relegated to minorities back to the political process that wronged them in the first place.”

The remainder of the case has been stayed, so there won’t be filings on any other issues in the case besides the motion to dismiss, says Borelli. These filings add more evidence for Judge William Duffey to review as he continues to consider the state’s motion to dismiss. And if any other pending same-sex marriage decisions across the country come down, look for either side in Georgia’s case to use them, whether they’re of the Sixth Circuit variety or the Arkansas/Mississippi variety.

“You bet, you’ll continue to see notices of supplemental authority as additional cases are settled across the country,” Borelli says.

See Attorney General Olens’ filing below. When Lambda Legal’s filing has been posted, we will update the story.

UPDATE: Lambda Legal’s filing from today citing the Arkansas and Mississippi cases. | @patricksaunders