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Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage

Avondale Estates Decatur Kirkwood and East Lake Metro ATL

Supreme Court legalizes same-sex marriage

The U.S. Supreme Court Building. Source: Wikimedia Commons

The U.S. Supreme Court Building. Source: Wikimedia Commons

This story has been updated.

The U.S. Supreme Court has just ruled that same-sex marriage is a constitutional right, and has expanded that right to all 50 states.

CNN reports the justices ruled 5-4 against same sex marriage bans, including Georgia’s.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion, saying “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family.In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.”

Justice Antonin Scalia was one of the dissenting judges and called the ruling a “judicial Putsch.”

To read more coverage from CNN, click here.

Decatur and Avondale Estates already symbolically recognized same-sex relationships.

DeKalb County announced its probate court would be open Saturday, June 27, from 8 a.m. to noon to handle the anticipated flood of people seeking marriage licenses.

“The highest court in the land has ruled on the issue, and it is up to rest of the judiciary to follow the law and accommodate the citizens of each jurisdiction,” DeKalb County Probate Judge Jeryl Rosh said in a press release.  “To that end, we will be open this Saturday to accommodate DeKalb County residents with their questions and applications for marriage licenses.”

State Rep. Karla Drenner, D-Avondale Estates, is openly gay and applauded the ruling.

“I am of course overjoyed,” Drenner said. “Based on my experiences in 2004, fighting the constitutional ban on same sex marriage…it feels as if we have moved light years from that moment in time. I do not think that today’s decision has changed the moral divide that is pervasive in our country. No court decision will ever be able to bridge that gap, and yet today the LGBT community celebrates. Our work is not finished. Tomorrow we will continue, ensuring that our equality, our freedoms, our futures will not be subjugated to the few that would consider us lesser Americans because of who God made us to be.”

The Atlanta Journal Constitution interviewed Decatur residents Annie Dollarhide and Sylvia O’Connell, who got married at the county courthouse on June 26. Dollarhide said a line had formed behind the couple and people applauded when they received their marriage license. To read the full story, click here.

In response to the ruling, Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed released the following statement:

Today is an historic occasion for the City of Atlanta, for Georgia, and for America. The Supreme Court’s ruling marks a momentous victory for freedom, equality, and love. It is clear that the arc of history continues to bend ever closer toward justice. The Court’s ruling is a powerful testament to our country’s founding principles. Surely if we are a nation of equality and justice, then no loving couple should be treated as inferior to any other. If we truly believe in equal protection under the law, then we must defend this fundamental right to marriage.

Atlantans have long worked to create a just and inclusive society. We have a proud history of upholding human rights and providing equal opportunity to all people. That history is rooted in the knowledge that our diversity makes our city stronger.

I urge Georgia’s state and county officials to move swiftly to implement the Supreme Court’s ruling and the Constitution’s command. Atlanta’s same-sex couples have already waited far too long for the respect and dignity they deserve.

While we celebrate this crucial step toward achieving our vision of equality, we must also realize that our work is not complete. We must ensure that love is never a barrier to success and that no one is ever fired, evicted, or denied service simply for being who they are. I am confident that the people of Atlanta will continue to lead the way as we work toward becoming a more just state and nation.

Members of the Atlanta City Council also weighed in, via press release:

ATLANTA – Members of the Atlanta City Council called today’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriages a victory for those who cherish equality and the liberties afforded to all Americans under the U.S. Constitution.

“I celebrate today’s landmark Supreme Court decision with my LGBT brothers and sisters in Atlanta, in Georgia, and in the United States,” said Atlanta City Councilmember Alex Wan. “This is a historic milestone for human and civil rights in America and marks a huge step closer towards equality for the LGBT community. LOVE WINS.”

Wan’s colleagues agreed.

“I applaud the actions of the U.S. Supreme Court for prohibiting a ban on same sex marriage,” said Council President Ceasar Mitchell. “This ruling is long overdue. All citizens deserve the same rights and protections under our Constitution, and today’s ruling is a historic victory for all Americans.”

“This is an exciting and humbling day in American history,” said City Councilmember Kwanza Hall. “Today’s decision by the United States Supreme Court is the culmination of decades of hard work by LGBT Americans, their families, and their allies across the country. Today we are seeing what happens when people band together to fight for what is right, state their case, and make allies along the way, regardless of how long it takes. I could not be happier or prouder. Love has won today.”

The United States Supreme Court has ruled that marriage is one of the basic civil rights of the American people, fundamental to our very existence and survival. In fact, in 1974 the Supreme Court declared that: “This court has long recognized that freedom of personal choice in matters of marriage and family life is one of the liberties protected by the [Constitution].”

Marriages that are deemed legally valid by the federal and state governments provide the married couple with more than 1,138 federal rights, privileges, economic advantages and legal protections.

Those rights include access to health care, inheritance of social security benefits and eligibility for significant taxation advantages.  Protections afforded to each spouse in a legal marriage include protection of their parental relationship with their children, protection of the inheritance rights of their spouse and children, ensuring hospital visitation rights and the ability to make medical decisions for their spouse, and protection of property rights.

With today’s historic decision, those rights are now extended to members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Community.

City Councilmember Andre Dickens said: “I am very pleased with the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing same sex marriages. I believe it is long overdue and I’m glad that the judicial process has completed so that we all can be viewed equally in the eyes of the law.”

“As a strong supporter of marriage equality for many years,” said City Councilmember Mary Norwood, “I am absolutely thrilled that the Supreme Court has declared that marriage is a right for everyone in our country. I will be celebrating this afternoon and evening with many of my constituents and sharing their excitement and delight that this day has come to pass in our City, our State and our nation.”

Wan said the City of Atlanta has been in the forefront in the support of marriage equality.

“I want to express how proud I am to serve on an Atlanta City Council that in 2012 overwhelmingly passed a resolution supporting marriage equality,” he said. “Thank you to all that have supported and stood by our community on this journey.”

In 2004, the Atlanta City Council also passed resolution opposing an amendment to the Georgia Constitution that banned same-sex marriages in Georgia.

Today’s Supreme Court ruling strikes down all state bans.

Here is one reader’s reaction to today’s big news …

Hi! You asked for opinions regarding today’s SCOTUS ruling, so here are mine.

I am straight.  I married my wonderful husband 11 years ago and we have two great kids together.  I have witnessed, with great sadness, friends who have not had that same right.  I have watched friends struggle to adopt children, to get health benefits, to simply have their union recognized with the dignity and respect that I have received for no other reason than I am straight and they are not.
I will always remember where I was today and what I was doing when the decision came out (to be fair, I was sitting anxiously in front of the live feed on SCOTUSblog.com).  I will always remember watching a group break out into the National Anthem on the steps of the Supreme Court in celebration after the opinion was announced.  But, I will also forever remember today as the day that the world changed for my children.  The hope that they can grow up in a country wherein the idea of outlawing gay marriage is more foreign to them than same sex marriage itself makes my soul soar.
Today I am so proud of my country.

Lindsay Reese

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