Georgians React To Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling | WABE 90.1 FM

Georgians React To Supreme Court’s Gay Marriage Ruling

Jun 26, 2015


Celebrations took place outside the U.S. Supreme Court building following a 5-4 ruling to make same-sex marriages legal nationwide.
Credit Manuel Balce Ceneta / AP Photo

After a 5-4 decision from the Supreme Court on Friday, same-sex marriage is legal in all 50 states. 

Writing the majority opinion, Justice Anthony Kennedy said that “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 once they were.”

“A Closer Look” hosts Rose Scott and Denis O’Hayer rounded up responses from Atlanta officials, activists, professors and more, including Atlanta Mayor Kasim Reed, who said the decision is a “momentous victory for freedom and love.”

Beth Littrell of the Atlanta office of Lambda Legal was interviewed in the WABE studio.
Credit Jason Parker / WABE

Beth Littrell, a senior attorney in the Southern regional office of Lambda Legal, and who represented a group of same-sex couples challenging Georgia’s constitutional ban on gay marriage hailed the ruling, calling the decision “a beautiful opinion.”

She said the ruling is “about liberty and equality and American ideals. Everyone should take a read.”

Also on "A Closer Look," Georgia State University law professor Tanya Washington reacted to the ruling and discussed its implications. Washington had filed a brief, which was cited in the Supreme Court's majority opinion, alleging that same-sex marriage bans have had adverse effects on the children of gay couples.

Georgia State University law professor Tanya Washington.
Credit Charles W. Jones / WABE

"[This decision] is going to be far-reaching. And our processes, protocols, forms are going to have to catch up with this new reality ... we will adjust. And I have confidence that the American public and our public entities will adjust to this new reality," she told Rose and Denis.

Georgia was one of 14 states that did not legally recognize gay marriages before the ruling. In 2005, Georgia voters approved a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriages in a referendum.

Georgia's Attorney General Sam Olens, who had petitioned the Supreme Court to uphold the state ban, issued a statement saying Georgia “will follow the law and adhere to the ruling of the court.”

In a statement Gov. Nathan Deal said that the state would follow federal law, though he believed the issue should have been decided by the states themselves.

Stacey Abrams, the Georgia State House minority leader, applauded the Supreme Court decision.

"I think that having the Supreme Court recognize the sanctity of marriage and to understand that it's not one that bounded by gender is a critical turning point in our society. I think the expansion of liberty is something to celebrate," Abrams said.

In response to the decision, Mike Griffin, a spokesman for the Georgia Baptist Convention, said the ruling was the worst by the Supreme Court since the 1973 Roe v. Wade decision legalizing abortion in the United States.

He said the marriage ruling could open the door to a whole new definition of marriage that could include group marriage, polygamy and incest.

Abrams disagreed with Griffin's assessment. 

"[The court] did not undercut any of the more practical decision that have been made about the civility of marriage – about consent in marriage. There were no changes about who could be allowed to enter into a union ... what they have determined is not that anyone can get married. What they determined is that basing that decision purely on the gender of the spouse is an irrelevancy that cannot be sustained under our Constitution."

To hear more analysis, responses and whether the 5-4 split surprised anyone, click on the audio above.