By David R. Cohen | firstname.lastname@example.org
The 5-4 civil rights ruling overturning state bans on same-sex marriages is the result of a long battle over marriage rights and represents a major victory for the LGBT community. All three Jewish justices were in the majority.
“I am absolutely ecstatic,” SOJOURN Assistant Director Robbie Medwed said. “I think this is a fantastic thing both for LGBT couples and for the entire country. We have had two classes of people for far too long, and we can now say without a doubt that the Constitution really does stand for equality of all citizens.”
Georgia and North Dakota had been the only states with bans on same-sex marriage that had not been overturned by lower courts.
Georgia Attorney General Sam Olens, who is Jewish, had promised not to fight such a ruling, and he was true to his word. In a statement, he said: “Today the Supreme Court of the United States ruled the Constitution requires a state to license a marriage between two people of the same sex and to recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out of state. It does not permit bans on same-sex marriage. In our system of government, the Supreme Court bears the ultimate responsibility for determining the constitutionality of our laws. Once the Supreme Court has ruled, its Order is the law of the land. As such, Georgia will follow the law and adhere to the ruling of the Court.”
A number of Atlanta rabbis in support of same-sex marriage had made themselves available to officiate weddings if and when the high court ruled against the bans. Rabbis Erin Boxt of Temple Kol Emeth, Michael Bernstein of Congregation Gesher L’Torah, Malka Packer of InterfaithFamily/Atlanta, Pamela Gottfried and the entire staff of The Temple had signed up to officiate at freedomtomarry.org.
Despite the victory for those in Georgia’s LGBT community, the fight is far from over. Although same-sex couples now have a right to marry nationwide, no Georgia law protects gay men and women from discrimination.
“As happy as we are with marriage equality,” Medwed said, “it is important to note that it is still completely legal in Georgia to discriminate against someone who is LGBT. They can be denied housing, they can be fired from their job, and they can be denied service. All of these things happen because Georgia has no nondiscrimination laws.”
See more reactions from members of the Atlanta Jewish community in the July 3 issue of the AJT…