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Top Stories This Week in the Chronicle.
May 26, 2006

Georgia ban amendment is struck down -as planned,
some say

Georgia ban amendment is struck down -- as planned, some say

Atlanta--A judge�s May 16 ruling to strike Georgia�s anti-marriage amendment on procedural grounds was expected two years ago, says a state representative, and may have actually been planned by state Republicans so they could boost conservative turnout in two separate elections.

Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell issued her decision that the amendment, which bars same-sex marriage and the recognition of parallel institutions like civil unions and domestic partnerships, violates a requirement in the Georgia constitution that amendments deal with only one subject.

Two years ago, as the proposed amendment was facing debate in the legislature, State Rep. Tom Bordeaux argued that its language was deliberately designed to fail a constitutional challenge.

�It will be thrown out and then people will wail that those activist judges have overruled the will of the people,� he said, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. �Two years from now, or maybe three years from now, many of us will be back again, debating the same issue, trying to draft new language, to appease those violently activist liberal federal judges.�

The Athens Banner-Herald notes that he continued, �And if that�s what you want, if you want to have the gift that keeps on giving, approve it today. It is a godsend to the Republican Party, because it will continue to stir things up . . . to make people angry at each other.�

While his prediction came to pass, it was not a federal judge but a county one, and she can hardly be considered �liberal.�

Russell was appointed to the bench in 1996 by rightist Democrat Zell Miller, who later went on to address the 2004 Republican National Convention.

Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue immediately called for the Georgia Supreme Court to overturn the ruling by August 7 or he would call a special legislative session to reintroduce an amendment on August 9. Any new amendment will need to be approved by August 14 to make it onto the November ballot.

Opponents of the amendment point out that there is already a law on the books in Georgia defining marriage as being between one man and one woman, and the federal Defense of Marriage Act allows states to refuse to acknowledge same-sex marriages performed in other states.

They also note that a special session, which could run as long as a week, would cost taxpayers up to $40,000 per day.

While same-sex marriage was a hot-button issue in the 2004 elections, most polls point to the ongoing hostilities in Iraq and illegal immigration as more pressing concerns in this election cycle, so it is unclear how much added political clout a reintroduced anti-marriage amendment would bring in November.

A federal marriage amendment, however, is currently in Congress, with hearings set for the first week of June.


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