Georgia Federal Court Allows Lambda Legal Marriage Case to Proceed

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"We look forward to our day in court to demonstrate Georgia’s marriage ban is unconstitutional and relegates the state’s same-sex couples to a second-class status that keeps them and their families vulnerable."
January 8, 2015
Tara Borelli
"Today, after the blizzard of rulings over the last few months, Georgia now finds itself in the minority of states continuing to enforce these discriminatory marriage bans.”

(Atlanta, January 8, 2015 ) - The U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia ruled today to allow Lambda Legal’s case challenging Georgia’s discriminatory marriage ban to proceed.  The case was filed on behalf of four same-sex couples and the surviving spouse of a fifth couple -- Christopher Inniss and Shelton Stroman of Snellville, Rayshawn Chandler and Avery Chandler of Jonesboro, Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas of Atlanta, Beth and Krista Wurz of  Brunswick and Jennifer Sisson of Decatur.

"We are delighted that the Court will allow this case to continue.   We look forward to our day in court to demonstrate Georgia’s marriage ban is unconstitutional and relegates the state’s same-sex couples to a second-class status that keeps them and their families vulnerable," said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal’s Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta.

"Today, after the blizzard of rulings over the last few months, Georgia now finds itself in the minority of states continuing to enforce these discriminatory marriage bans.” Borelli said. “Surely, Georgia state officials must see the writing on the wall. Georgians believe in the Southern values of love, honor and family, but as long as the State of Georgia continues to bar same-sex couples from marriage, it devalues these families and reinforces unfairness and discrimination. These families need marriage equality and should not have to live with a law that treats them as inferior."

The plaintiffs include: Christopher Inniss and Shelton Stroman who have been together for more than 13 years, and are raising their 10 year-old-son, Jonathan; Rayshawn Chandler, a flight attendant, and Avery Chandler, a Reservist who is deployed in the Middle East, who seek recognition of their marriage from Connecticut; Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas, together for more than seven years and the parents of  two children; Beth Wurz and Krista Wurz, married for more than four years and raising seven children in their Brunswick home, including five placed with them through the foster care system; and Jennifer Sisson, whose wife, Pamela Drenner, died last year. Jennifer and Pam were married in New York in 2013. Despite being legally married, the State of Georgia has refused to list Jennifer as Pam’s wife on Pam’s death certificate.

In the lawsuit, Lambda Legal, joined by pro bono co-counsel from Bryan Cave and White & Case, argues that Georgia’s marriage ban unfairly discriminates against same-sex couples and sends a purposeful message that lesbians, gay men, and their children are second-class citizens who are undeserving of the legal sanction, respect, protections, and support that different-sex couples and their families are able to enjoy through marriage.

Lambda Legal attorneys Tara Borelli, Beth Littrell, Gregory Nevins, and Susan Sommer are handling the case, joined by Georgia co-counsel William V. Custer of Bryan Cave LLP and David P. Draigh of White & Case LLP.

Read the order here: http://www.lambdalegal.org/in-court/legal-docs/innis_ga_20150108_order-denying-motion-to-dismiss

The case is Inniss v. Aderhold.

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Contact Info

Jonathan Adams Cell: 646-752-3251; Email: jadams@lambdalegal.org

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