Georgia attorney general weighs in on same-sex marriage

Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens spoke yesterday at the Atlanta Press Club, and what he had to say about gay marriage was certainly interesting.

First, we offer up a bit of background information to provide a relevant framework for Olens’ comments. Given the recent flurry of activities on the same-sex marriage front nationally, some of our readers might appreciate that.

As we noted in a recent blog post, a minority of states — including Georgia — continue to have state laws that ban gay marriage inside their borders. Challenges to those bans by same-sex marriage advocates have proven successful in several states, where federal courts have overturned them.

Our March 5 blog post discussed the “state/federal standoff” that occurred recently in Alabama, where the highest court in that state essentially threw down the gauntlet to federal authority, ruling that the state did not need to obey a federal court order regarding gay marriages. The court stated that it felt itself “equally empowered as the federal courts to decide whether [the state’s ban] violates the Constitution.”

As any constitutional scholar will readily note, that is generally not the way it works when a federal court issues a legal ruling.

And that is not the way it will work in Georgia, says Olens, if the U.S. Supreme Court overturns the state bans across the country that currently prohibit same-sex marriage.

Olens stated yesterday that, “When the Supreme Court rules on an issue, we’re going to follow the order.”

Olens added that, while he feels it his duty to defend Georgia law on the matter, it is important that there be unanimity in the wake of any ruling issued by the nation’s highest tribunal.

The Supreme Court is expected to issue a final ruling on the matter sometime this summer, with most commentators believing that the tribunal will overturn states’ prohibitions against gay unions.

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