Inniss v. Aderhold
On January 8, a federal judge denied a Motion to Dismiss in this federal legal case led by Lambda Legal seeking the freedom to amrry in Georgia and respect for marriages legally performed elsewhere. The case, filed with pro bono co-counsel from Bryan Cave and White & Case, argues that same-sex couples should not be denied the dignity and respect that only marriage can provide. The judge's denial of the motion means that the case is permitted to move forward.
On January 29, Judge Duffey granted in part and denied in part a request to stay the proceedings in the case, pending resolution from the U.S. Supreme Court. In his order, Judge Duffey certified his January 8 order denying the defendants’ motion to dismiss the case for immediate appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit. Judge Duffey did not rule on the constitutionality of Georgia’s marriage ban, instead indicating that the 11th Circuit should review the case before he issues an order. If the 11th Circuit accepts the appeal, Georgia’s case will be on the same track for a decision from the 11th Circuit as the Florida and Alabama cases, marking a definite step forward for the freedom to marry in Georgia.
On April 22, 2014, Lambda Legal filed a federal lawsuit seeking the freedom to marry in Georgia and respect for marriages legally performed elsewhere.
Tara Borelli, a Senior Attorney for Lambda Legal who is based in Georgia, explained, "Every day that same-sex couples in Georgia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that their families are not worthy of dignity and respect. Georgians believe in the Southern values of love, honor and family, but as long as the State of Georgia continues to bar same-sex couples from marriage, it devalues these families and reinforces unfairness and discrimination."
Jeff Graham, Executive Director of Georgia Equality, added: "Today’s filing represents a critically important step in the ongoing work toward marriage equality in Georgia. Georgia Equality stands with these inspiring couples in their fight to enable more than 21,000 same-sex couples and their families living in Georgia the freedom to marry the person who they love."
The plaintiffs in the case include three same-sex couples who wish to marry in Georgia - including Christopher Inniss andShelton Stroman, who are raising a 9-year-old and have been together for 13 years; Rayshawn Chandler and Avery Chandler, police officers from Atlanta together for nearly three years; Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas, who are raising two children after seven years together. Additionally, plaintiff Jennifer Sisson, a widow who lost her wife Pamela Drenner last year, is suing after Georgia state officials denied respect for the women's marriage for the purpose of listing Jennifer on Pam's death certificate.