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Judge limits involvement of antigay groups in Georgia marriage ban case

Judge limits involvement of antigay groups in Georgia marriage ban case

A judge's decision to limit defendants in a case involving a ban on same-sex marriage in Georgia was blasted Thursday by the marriage ban's original sponsor. Sen. Mike Crotts, a Republican from Conyers who sponsored the state's constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage and civil unions, said he and any other interested lawmakers should be free to join the governor in defending the amendment, which was overwhelmingly approved by voters last November. A group of gay rights supporters has challenged the amendment in court, saying it was misleading because voters saw only part of the new constitutional language. Earlier this week Fulton County superior judge Constance Russell denied a request by Crotts and the Christian Coalition of Georgia to become intervenors in the case, meaning they could not help Gov. Sonny Perdue defend the amendment. "I think it's only fair" to allow lawmakers and other supporters help defend the amendment, Crotts told reporters Thursday. Crotts is not returning to the legislature next week--he made an unsuccessful bid for the U.S. Congress last year--but he vowed that no court in Georgia would be able to defeat a gay marriage amendment. "If a judge throws it out, I think you're going to see it again. Not only are you going to see it again, it'll pass again," Crotts said. Gay marriage and civil unions were illegal in Georgia before the amendment, but the matter wasn't addressed in the state constitution. In her decision Monday, Judge Russell wrote that people who support a law or amendment are not therefore entitled to get involved in a later lawsuit about it. She noted that the governor didn't say he needed help defending the amendment. "The proposed intervenors do not dispute that the vigorously defending the litigation," she wrote. A hearing on the amendment language has not been scheduled. (AP)

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