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Lawsuit challenges US state’s gay marriage ban

April 22, 2014

ATLANTA (AP) — A gay rights group Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit in Atlanta challenging the state of Georgia’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriages.

Lambda Legal filed the lawsuit on behalf of seven people.

“The history of the United States has been defined by the ability of each succeeding generation to recognize that social, economic, political, religious, and historical norms do not define our unalienable rights,” the lawsuit says. ”(I)n time, the American ideal of equality and liberty demanded that our government move past cultural and majority oppressions, however long-standing, in order to secure and fulfill the individual rights of all citizens.”

The suit is one of many legal challenges to such bans throughout the United States. The issue will ultimately be decided by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Gay marriage is legal in 17 states and the Washington capital district — and Stroman and Inniss have considered going to one of those spots to get married. But they said they’re frustrated that their union would have no legal standing in Georgia.

The Supreme Court last year found that the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act, which forbade the federal government from recognizing same-sex marriage, improperly deprived gay couples of due process. That ruling came as polls showed that a majority of Americans now support gay marriage.

Georgia voters in 2004 overwhelmingly approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage. The state constitution prohibits same-sex marriage and says that Georgia will recognize only the union of a man and a woman as marriage. It says same-sex marriages performed in other states will not be not legally recognized.

Shelton Stroman is one of the plaintiffs who filed the suit, along with his partner, Chris Inniss. They are a suburban Atlanta couple that has been together for about 13 years and has adopted a son.

“We just want to make sure that other families like ours are treated just like everyone else’s family,” one of the plaintiffs, Shelton Stroman, told the Associated Press in a telephone interview. He and his partner, Chris Inniss, have been together for 13 years and have an adopted son. “It’s really hurtful and offensive that the state of Georgia is refusing to treat our families fairly.”

Gay marriage advocates have enjoyed a string of successful legal challenges this year, as lower-court judges have repeatedly cited last year’s Supreme Court decision when striking down same-sex marriage bans.

They have ruled against bans in Michigan, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Texas, and ordered Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

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