Georgia files response to appeal in marriage amendment lawsuit
The Georgia attorney general's office has filed court papers asking the state supreme court not to stop a November 2 vote on a state constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.
The state filed a brief Tuesday in answer to an appeal filed by the Georgia American Civil Liberties Union, Lambda Legal, and Atlanta law firm Alston and Bird last week. That appeal was in response to a lower court ruling that refused to stop the statewide vote on a proposed constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. The state supreme court granted a request for an expedited hearing, scheduling oral arguments for next Tuesday.
The state's legal brief cites Gaskins v. Dorsey, a 1920 case in which the high court ruled it lacked jurisdiction to stop a referendum. The court found that a constitutional amendment that has not been voted on is the equivalent of legislation that has not been voted on by lawmakers. The lower court judge who decided not to halt the same-sex marriage referendum also cited Gaskins v. Dorsey.
The state's brief also gives other reasons for not stopping the vote on the marriage amendment, such as the timing of the lawsuit. "They inexplicably waited over five months to assert their claims and now claim an 'emergency,"' the brief says.
In their appeal, opponents of the gay marriage ban claim the proposed amendment violates the single-subject rule of the state constitution because it addresses three issues other than gay marriage: civil unions, the ability of Georgia courts to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states, and the jurisdiction of Georgia courts to rule on disputes arising from same-sex relationships. The appeal also claims the ballot question voters will see at the polls is misleading because it asks only about marriage.