July 2013 Newsletter

Georgia’s Marriage Amendment Passed in 2004

“This state shall recognize as marriage only the union of man and woman.  Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state.

“No union between persons of the same sex shall be recognized by this state as entitled to the benefits of marriage.  This state shall not give effect to any public act, record, or judicial proceeding of any other state or jurisdiction respecting a relationship between persons of the same sex that is treated as a marriage under the laws of such other state or jurisdiction.  The courts of this state shall have no jurisdiction to grant a divorce or separate maintenance with respect to any such relationship or otherwise to consider or rule on any of the parties’ respective rights arising as a result of or in connection with such relationship.”

 – Constitution of the State of Georgia, Article I, Section IV

 Six months before the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) passed Congress in September 1996 the Georgia legislature had already passed H.B. 15801 to define marriage as “only the union of man and woman.”  H.B. 1580 became law when Governor Zell Miller signed it April 2, 1996.

Also, H.B. 1580 settled the question of marriage licenses, by (a) prohibiting the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and (b) prohibiting the recognition of marriage licenses from other states that don’t meet Georgia’s legal definition of marriage.

When judges began declaring other state marriage laws to be unconstitutional and legislators realized state laws needed constitutional protection from judicial activism, by 2004 Georgia legislators introduced two resolutions2 to amend the State Constitution.  One was H.R. 1470 that defined marriage as between “man and woman,” but did not restrict it to one man and one woman and did not address marriage licenses or unions made in other states.

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