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Tuesday, April 22, 2014 - 6:32am

Snellville Couple To Sue Georgia Over Gay Marriage Ban

A same-sex couple made history Tuesday when they filed a federal lawsuit against the state, demanding the right to marry.

Shelton Stroman and Chris Inniss of Snellville are the lead plaintiffs in the lawsuit challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages. The lawsuit, which is being filed by gay rights organization Lambda Legal, will also include two other couples and a 34-year-old woman. Bryan Cave LLP and Case and White LLP are pro bono co-counsels.

The suit says same-sex couples who want to marry in Georgia are denied equal protection under the law.

Currently, Georgia is one of the five states in the nation that doesn’t have same-sex litigation pending.

Stroman and Inniss, who have been together for 13 years, want to get married in Georgia instead of moving to another state where gay marriage is already legal.

“If we did go do that, when we’d come back to Georgia it doesn’t really mean anything after that because they don’t recognize it,” said Inniss.

Lambda Legal attorney Beth Littrell says the state’s amendment passed in 2004 is overly broad.

“It has a provision that strips courts of jurisdictions to even rule on rights arising out of such relationships,” said Littrell. “So it has a very dangerous and harmful constitutional amendment.”

Lamda Legal says it’s filing the lawsuit now because they believe public opposition to gay marriage is declining, and there have been a string of legal opinions supporting same-sex unions.

Stroman says he and his partner have seen attitudes toward them change.

“We’ve definitely seen the change and once they get to know you and know ‘ Oh my God, you’re family is just like my family. Oh, you do the same things and go through the same things that we go through.’ ”

Stroman says he and Inniss wanted their 9-year-old son to know their family is not inferior to anyone else’s family.

In a press release from Lambda Legal, the organization says the state’s ban on gay marriage devalues “Southern values of love, honor, and family.”

“Georgia joins a growing chorus of Southern states clamoring for marriage equality. The freedom to marry is indeed coming to the south,” said Littrell.

In 2006, the State Supreme Court found that Georgia’s amendment is constitutional.