What is the probable timeline for same-sex marriage in Georgia?
November 12, 2014 8:15 AM   Subscribe

I want to be legally married to my partner in our home state. I can't figure out when that will probably be possible.

What I know:
-Georgia has a federal lawsuit pending. I don't know what's happening with it - seems like there's been no progress in months.

-Georgia is in the 11th circuit. So is Florida. Florida seems to be further along and has a case pending in the 11th circuit. I don't know when a decision is expected from the 11th circuit judges, how they are expected to rule, and, if positive, when the ruling would likely trickle up to GA.

-Since the 6th circuit upheld marriage inequality, it seems like that might go to the Supreme Court. No one seems to know what the SC will do about it, but I *think* that if the SC hears it this term, we would get a ruling in June 2015. Assuming they rule in favor of marriage equality, that would probably mean GA (and all other states) would have marriage equality by, I dunno, the end of the summer?

Can someone more knowledgable please explain and any all possible and probable timelines for marriage equality in GA? I need to plan my life!

Thanks.
posted by ohsnapdragon to Law & Government (13 answers total) 2 users marked this as a favorite
 
Would a trip to a state which already allows same-sex marriage be out of the question? The closest without a pending lawsuit to Georgia that I can think of is Maryland.

Your neighboring state of South Carolina was just ordered to start issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples beginning November 20. So if you can wait 8 days, you won't have to travel as far as Maryland.
posted by tckma at 8:26 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Tckma, it's currently legal in NC as well. There are lots of places we could go to get legally married but we would like to wait until it's legal in GA for the symbolism.
posted by ohsnapdragon at 8:33 AM on November 12, 2014 [2 favorites]


I would probably call or e-mail somebody at Lambda Legal, to be honest - they're intimately involved in every (or ALMOST every!) state- and circuit-level marriage equality fight, and I'll bet that any opinion/guess that they'd be willing to proffer on this will be probably the most well-informed one you're gonna get. Good luck!
posted by julthumbscrew at 8:38 AM on November 12, 2014 [6 favorites]


Would a trip to a state which already allows same-sex marriage be out of the question?

The marriage would still not be recognized by Georgia as their law currently stands.
posted by ftm at 8:44 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


No one can predict this. You can get some good educated guesses, but who knows how much local courts will kick, or what our State Legislature will concoct to delay progress.

The Supreme Court waded through a number of cases and decided not to hear them, thus upholding same sex marriage in five states. These were challenges to states that had voted FOR same sex marriage.

There are still a lot of ifs, and the country just went a bit right in the last elections.
posted by Ruthless Bunny at 8:52 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Seconding what julthumbscrew. Call the Lambda Legal Help Desk in Atlanta.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:55 AM on November 12, 2014


Since the 6th circuit upheld marriage inequality, it seems like that might go to the Supreme Court. No one seems to know what the SC will do about it, but I *think* that if the SC hears it this term, we would get a ruling in June 2015. Assuming they rule in favor of marriage equality, that would probably mean GA (and all other states) would have marriage equality by, I dunno, the end of the summer?

I think you pretty much answered your own question there (except if the ruling happens June 2015, all states would have to comply immediately, not by end of summer.) But an alternate scenario is that the 6th circuit case gets sufficiently delayed by the maneuver of having the full circuit review the case en banc that it doesn't get taken up by the SC until their 2015-16 season. In which case it might not be until summer 2016 before you have an answer. I think the timeline is somewhere between those dates, though (June 2015-June 2016). A closer court-watcher could handicap the probabilities along that line. Here's an opinion that weighs toward 2016.

It's also possible the full 6th circuit could reverse the three-judge decision, in which case we have legal same-sex marriage in the 6th, but that doesn't help you any. So you actually want to root for the 6th to uphold the decision so as to clear the way for the Supremes to weigh in.
posted by beagle at 10:13 AM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


(Pretty much the only thing that made me NOT want to punch a wall after the 6th weighed in was the probably-apocryphal theory that they upheld the ban NOT because they wanted to, but to force the Supremes to hear it. So there's that, too.)
posted by julthumbscrew at 10:27 AM on November 12, 2014


Here are what I consider the likely scenarios. I would consider *none* of these possibilities out of the question, although some I think are more likely than others. I have tried to put what I think are the likelier ones first. Bear in mind I am just Some Person On The Internet.

1) The 6th Circuit does not go to en banc review, the Supreme Court takes the case, and rules in favor of same sex marriage. Knock wood, but this is not an unreasonable possibility. If 6th Circuit does not go to en banc, it is likely the Supreme Court will pick up the case. If they do, there is a decent chance it will split along the same lines it's been splitting on the subject for years. Same sex marriage would then become the law of the land, including Georgia, in summer 2015.

2) The 6th Circuit goes to en banc review, rules in favor of the bans. The Supreme Court takes the case, and rules in favor of same sex marriage. As before, but the schedule is probably pushed back to summer 2016.

3) The 6th Circuit goes to en banc review, and rules in favor of same sex marriage. The Supreme Court waits. The 8th or 11th circuit eventually rules in favor of the bans (as they are almost certain to do.) The Supreme Court picks it up then, but ... this is going to be a few more years down the line. The makeup of the Supreme Court could change, making this unpredictable. So either they rule in favor of same sex marriage, making it legal in Georgia in maybe four or five years, or -- they rule that states have the right to ban same sex marriage, meaning it will be illegal in Georgia for the foreseeable future, probably more than a decade. There is no way to tell which would be more likely at the time.

4) 6th Circuit does not go to en banc review, and the Supreme Court takes the case, but rules in favor of same sex marriage bans. If, say, Kennedy wusses out, and same sex marriage laws get thrown back to the states, it will be a frosty day in hell before it's legal in Georgia. Again, probably more than a decade.

I wish to reiterate that ALL of these are possible. There are NO guarantees either way.
posted by kyrademon at 2:05 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


Nate Silver made these predictions back in around 2007 or so - sorry I don't have a cite, but I think it was on Daily Kos. He said that Mississippi would be the last state to accept it, in 2020.
posted by mmiddle at 3:57 PM on November 12, 2014


Here's Nate Silver's take from last year...
posted by 1367 at 4:20 PM on November 12, 2014 [1 favorite]


It's pretty cool that someone can ask this question, even with the maybe-extensive timeline. If it'd been asked 5 years ago, there would have been a lot of laughter.
posted by The Zeroth Law at 6:06 AM on November 13, 2014


The answer to your question is June 26, 2015.

Congratulations!
posted by kyrademon at 6:19 AM on June 27, 2015 [1 favorite]


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