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Monday, October 6, 2014 - 6:56pm

How The Supreme Court’s Refusal To Hear Gay Marriage Cases Affects Georgians

The U.S. Supreme Court blindsided many by refusing to even consider re–instating a ban on same–sex marriages in five states. The high court's decision will have an immediate impact on gay couples in some states. But other states will have to wait a bit longer.

Same-sex marriage is not legal in Georgia. But if you are a gay couple in Georgia how does the court’s decision affect you?

GPB Macon’s Michael Caputo turned to Tanya Washington, associate professor of law at Georgia State University to discuss the decision. She tells Caputo “it doesn’t change the status quo.”

The transcript of their interview appears below.

Tanya Washington (associate professor of law at Georgia State University) : It doesn’t change the status quo in Georgia, which means that same sex couples cannot marry in Georgia. Nor will the state recognize out of state same sex marriages. So it doesn’t mean anything in terms of the practical reality for gay couples here in Georgia, but I think it is going to energize the petitioners who are challenging the state marriage ban because the law is on their side; there have been 40 cases decided that strike down marriage bans as unconstitutional and one case out of Louisiana recognizing the constitutionality of a marriage ban. So I think it’s going to invigorate the litigants that are challenging Georgia’s ban to mount an even more forceful challenge to Georgia’s marriage prohibition.

GPB Macon’s Michael Caputo Do you think this in any way helps those who oppose same sex marriage?

Tanya Washington (associate professor of law at Georgia State University) : I don’t. Perhaps some of the courts that were entertaining lawsuits, challenging their state marriage bans would have been prepared to stay their decisions until the Supreme Court had decided one of those cases. And now they are going to have to litigate them. Those cases are going to go forward and move through the court system and they’ll be appeals and eventually there will be more appeals before the Supreme Court to review same-sex marriage bans and perhaps the court at that time will be ready to ultimately decide the issue so that we have a uniform policy across the United States.

GPB Macon’s Michael Caputo In the end, if you are a supporter of same-sex marriage, you’re looking at this and going ‘Wow we thought Louisiana was setting us back, maybe this is bringing us forward again?’
How would you see it from the point of view of those who support a same-sex marriage?

Tanya Washington (associate professor of law at Georgia State University) : I think the practical effect of it which leaves in tact the lower court decisions in five states, that those marriage bans are unconstitutional, is a victory - particularly in those five states and then in the other six states that fall within the federal circuits that are directly affected by the decision.

So it leaves those decisions invalidating the marriage bans standing and enforceable. I think outside of that it represents a symbolic victory that now we have more than half of the states allowing same-sex marriage and I think it creates the impression that it is inevitable that these bans will ultimately be invalidated in the states where they are still enforced.

GPB Macon’s Michael Caputo Professor Washington thank you so much for your time today.

Tanya Washington (associate professor of law at Georgia State University) :You are very welcome.