Yesterday, Judge William Duffey of the Northern District of Georgia denied a request from the state to stay the case of Innis v. Aderhold, which challenges Georgia’s ban on same sex marriage, pending a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court expected in June. The case will precede to the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals, headquartered in Atlanta, where it will join cases from Alabama and Florida that struck down those states’ ban on gay marriage. Because those Florida and Alabama cases are already before the 11th Circuit, Judge Duffey’s ruling would have been quickly rendered moot.
Technically, yesterday’s decision allowed the plaintiffs to appeal Judge Duffey’s partial ruling on January 8th. That ruling denied a motion from the state to dismiss the case but also found that Georgia’s ban on same-sex marriage does not violate the Due Process and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. The 11th Circuit will reconcile Judge Duffey’s partial ruling with the more decisive victories for gay and lesbian couples to our south and west.
Ultimately, the matter will be decided by the Supreme Court in June. But given the possibility that the plaintiffs are being denied a Constitutional right, viewed as “irreparable injury” by the legal system, Judge Duffey decided not to tarry.
Both the plaintiffs and defendants should celebrate the move. The couples suing the state can move past the damaging January 8th ruling and appeal to the decisions in Florida and Alabama, while Attorney General Olens and the state will be represented in the only case that matters (for the next five months.)
Politically, that means Georgia could have same-sex marriage before the end of this legislative session. Anyone wanna speculate what that means for RFRA?