April 22, 2014 at 10:08 am EDT | by Michael K. Lavers
BREAKING: Federal marriage lawsuit filed in Georgia

Georgia State Capitol, gay news, Washington Blade

(Photo by connor.carey; courtesy Wikimedia Commons)

Lambda Legal on Tuesday filed a federal lawsuit challenging Georgia’s same-sex marriage ban on behalf of three gay couples and a widow.

“Georgia is our home,” said Christopher Inniss of Snellville, who has been with his partner, Shelton Stroman, for 13 years, in a press release before the group filed the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia in Atlanta. “We own a home together, we own a business together, and we are raising our son, Jonathan, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but marriage is the only way to ensure that we are treated as the family that we are. We need the protection that marriage affords.”

18 states and D.C. have extended marriage rights to same-sex couples.

Gays and lesbians in Alabama, Florida, Tennessee, North Carolina and South Carolina and other states have filed marriage lawsuits since the U.S. Supreme Court last June struck down a portion of the Defense of Marriage Act.

The 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals earlier this month heard oral arguments in two lawsuits challenging Utah and Oklahoma’s constitutional amendments that define marriage as between a man and a woman. A federal appeals court in Richmond, Va., next month will hear oral arguments in a case that challenges Virginia’s gay nuptials ban.

Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott in February appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the Lone Star State’s same-sex marriage ban. The American Civil Liberties Union of Pennsylvania on Monday filed a motion with U.S. District Judge John Jones in Harrisburg, Pa., saying oral arguments in a lawsuit challenging Pennsylvania’s statutory gay nuptials prohibition is unnecessary because the commonwealth has said it will not call experts to counter the plaintiffs’ claims.

Georgia had been among the five states in which same-sex couples had yet to file a lawsuit seeking marriage rights.

“Today’s filing represents a critically important step in the ongoing work toward marriage equality in Georgia,” said Georgia Equality Executive Director Jeff Graham. “Georgia Equality stands with these inspiring couples in their fight to enable more than 21,000 same-sex couples and their families living in Georgia the freedom to marry the person who they love.”

Lauren Kane, communications director for Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, said he will defend the same-sex marriage ban.

“The attorney general will fulfill his constitutional obligation to defend Georgia law,” Kane told the Washington Blade.

Michael K. Lavers is the international news editor of the Washington Blade. Follow Michael

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