Until today, Georgia was one of the last 13 states that still denied same-sex couples the right to marry. No longer. In today's decision, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed that every couple, regardless of sexual orientation, can exercise one of the most fundamental rights in our society - marriage - in any state of our Union.
This is an important victory for equality. Still, Georgians should recognize that the fight for full equality - for all persons, regardless of race, gender, sexual orientation, or any other discriminatory classification - is far from over. As events in the news show on a daily basis, the Constitution's promise of "equal protection of the laws" is far from fulfilled, including in Georgia.
In his opinion, Justice Kennedy stated: "The nature of injustice is that we may not always see it in our own times. The generations that wrote and ratified the Bill of Rights and the Fourteenth Amendment did not presume to know the extent of freedom in all of its dimensions, and so they entrusted to future generations a character protecting the right of all persons to enjoy liberty as we learn its meaning."
Citizens of Georgia must take these words to heart. As our state moves forward, we hope that, rather than being one of the last states to fulfill equality for all, Georgia can take the lead in fulfilling these fundamental protections.
What are the basic steps involved in getting married in Georgia?
First, you must get a marriage license. Once you get a license, you are able to get married by having a ceremony performed by an authorized officiating person.
After the ceremony, the officiating person will fill out a form so that you can receive a marriage certificate. The marriage certificate is official proof of your marriage.
Where do I get a marriage license?
In Georgia, county probate courts grant marriage licenses to couples. Both parties must appear in person to get a marriage license. You will receive your license the same day you apply for it.
You may apply for a marriage license in any county in Georgia, as long as one or both of the parties to the marriage are residents of the state. Otherwise, you must apply for the marriage license in the county where the ceremony is to be held.
Can my partner and I get married the same day weget our marriage license?
Yes. There is no waiting period in Georgia. This means that the marriage license is immediately valid once it is issued.
After I get a marriage license, how long do we have to get married?
The marriage license remains valid for six months from the date it was issued. If you have not gotten married within six months, you will have to get a new marriage license before you can get married.
What identification will we need to provide the county clerk?
You will need your driver's license, passport or birth certificate. If you have been married before, you must present the court with your divorce decree.
How much does it cost?
Marriage license fees vary by county, and some counties require payment in cash only. Check the fees at your county probate court. https://www.gaprobate.org/find_court.asp
Can the clerk’s office refuse to give us a license because they object to marriages between same-sex couples, once same-sex marriage is legalized in Georgia?
No. Nothing allows a civil servant otherwise required to issue licenses for civil marriages to refuse to do so because of personal beliefs or religious objections. As government officials, they may not treat one group of applicants differently from another group solely because of personal religious objections. If you encounter a clerk’s office that refuses to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples, please contact the ACLU of Georgia at email@example.com.
Legislation that could have allowed businesses and individuals to use religion to discriminate failed Thursday night in Georgia following a national backlash to similar laws that passed in Indiana and Arkansas.
"Religious freedom is a fundamental American value, but the debate around Indiana has made it crystal-clear that it should not serve as a smokescreen for authorizing discrimination or letting individuals use their religious beliefs to harm others,” said Louise Melling, deputy legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union. “The conversation has forced politicians to reconsider policies that could allow discrimination and harm to countless people by denying them access to basic rights, such as employment, health care, or education."
A disturbing image hit the newswires this week, highlighting the barbaric conditions that are all too common in the American prison system. The photo shows a young prisoner in Georgia, who appears to be badly beaten, on his knees with a makeshift leash around his neck, while two other prisoners pose behind him, one holding the leash.
Incredibly, Georgia prison officials have focused their public reaction on the fact that the photo was apparently taken with a contraband cellphone, as if that were the cause of the brutality on display.
DeKalb County has agreed to settle a federal lawsuit accusing it of improperly jailing poor people who couldn’t afford misdemeanor probation plans at Recorder’s Court.
On January 29, 2015, the American Civil Liberties Union and the ACLU of Georgia filed a federal lawsuit challenging debt collection practices that have resulted in the jailing of people simply because they are poor. The case was brought on behalf of Kevin Thompson, a black teenager in DeKalb County, Georgia, who was jailed because he could not afford to pay court fines and probation company fees stemming from a traffic ticket.
The ACLU charged that DeKalb County and the for-profit company Judicial Correction Services, Inc. (JCS) teamed up to engage in a coercive debt collection scheme that focused on revenue generation at the expense of protecting poor people's rights.
The ACLU-GA would like to extend our condolences to the family and friends of Anthony Hill. Unfortunately this case is not an isolated incident. Far too many Americans who have mental disabilities die every year in police encounters, and many more are seriously injured. People of color with disabilities are disproportionately affected. At this time we join the Atlanta Police Chief in noting the importance of increased training for police on excessive use of force, especially in regards to interactions with people with mental disabilities.
A bill passed today by Georgia’s House of Representatives includes important and far-reaching reforms of the state’s abuse-ridden for-profit probation industry, Human Rights Watch, the national American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and the American Civil Liberties Union of Georgia (ACLU of GA) said today. The bill will next be considered by the state Senate.
House Bill 310’s provisions on private probation represent months of hard work by Governor Nathan Deal’s Criminal Justice Reform Council to address what its co-chair has called the “moral imperative” to deal with the “inequities and abuses” of the state’s for-profit probation industry.
Senate Bill 6 has made headlines for its controversial provision taking driver’s licenses away from immigrants allowed to remain legally in the U.S. under a grant of deferred action and work authorization, which would make Georgia the only state to enact legislation eliminating a category of lawfully present immigrants from its drivers’ license statute. However, SB 6 goes far beyond targeting DREAMers, victims of domestic violence, and other immigrants granted deferred action.