Metro Atlantans Celebrate Same-Sex Marriage Ruling (UPDATE 1)
(APN) ATLANTA — Celebrations were held throughout Metro Atlanta and across the U.S. on June 26, 2015, when the Supreme Court of the U.S. ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriages. It is now legal in all fifty U.S. states for same-sex couples to marry.
The first line in the Obergefell v. Hodges ruling states that the Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. 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.
In a 5-4 ruling, Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion joined by Justices Stephen Breyer, Ruth Bader Ginsburg, Elena Kagan, and Sonia Sotomayor. The four conservative Justices voting against gay marriage are Samuel Alito, John Roberts, Antonin Scalia, and Clarence Thomas.
It has been a long, hard-won legal victory but equality finally triumphed over hate and bigotry.
Fulton County Probate Court has already issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples. State Court Judge Jane Morrison presided over a mass wedding ceremony.
In Atlanta, one victory celebration was held at St. Luke’s Episcopal Church, 435 Peachtree Street, to an enthusiastic crowd.
When Rev. Dan Matthews, Jr. asked the congregation to stand and shout with joy over the Supreme Court decision, everyone stood and shouted with happiness for more than three minutes.
At another point, all the same-sex couples, who were married in another state, were asked to stand and be recognized, and more than 25 couples stood up. Today those couples’ marriages are legal in Georgia.
Later that evening at a reception given by St. Luke’s, Atlanta Progressive News interviewed a couple from Georgia who traveled to Boston, Massachusetts to marry in 2007.
Danniella and Jill Clark shared with APN their story:
“I’m originally from Boston, so that was one of the reason we got married there and Massachusetts was the first state to allow it [same-sex marriage]. My Mom is from a big family, so we did not miss out on having family present at our wedding,” Danniella Clark said.
“A lot of couples who got married out of state, who don’t have the opportunity to have their family or as many people there as they would like. We had a lot of friends in Georgia who were not able to attend because we were getting married out of state. That is something that is great for the people now, who have the opportunity to get married in Georgia. It is a great benefit for them to have family and friends at their wedding,” Danniella Clark said.
Danniella and Jill Clark now have two children, Amelia, two and a half, and Wesley, eleven months.
“We have taken care of the legal aspects of adoption with our children, to make sure we are both legally recognized parents. It will be nice for them to know we are legally married,” Danniella Clark said.
“I adopted Amelia and the second baby, Wesley, is biologically my child, but Danniella carried both,” Jill Clark said.
“The first baby was my egg and the second baby was Jill’s egg,” Danniella Clark said.
“They both have the same donor, so they are half biological siblings,” Jill Clark said.
They are members at St. Luke Episcopal Church.
Marriage will give new rights and benefits to same-sex couples including family health care coverage, emergency medical decisions for spouse and hospital visitations rights, right of survivorship, right to inheritance property, social security and veterans pension, joint parenting rights, joint adoption, joint tax filing, and many more.
Bob Gibeling, a member of the Lutheran Church of the Redeemer and a 2014 candidate for the Georgia House of Representatives seat from District 54, has been involved in LGBTQI rights for many years and talks about how things have changed and how they need to continue to change.
Gibeling worked for ten years as as the Executive Staff Person for Lutherans Concerned North America, an LGBTQI ministry.
“I laid the groundwork for the National Lutheran Church to change its policies on blessing of same gender couples. Lo and behold, they made that change in 2009 and I was there for that vote,” Gibeling said.
Gibeling was a delegate to the National Democratic Convention in 2012 when they voted on a full marriage equality platform. “The Georgia delegation was diverse and unanimous in its support,” Gibeling said.
“Now, I have lived long enough to see the Supreme Court make it legal everywhere, including Georgia,” Gibeling said.
Georgia banned same-sex marriage in 1996 and in 2004 Georgia voted to add an amendment to the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage. That amendment is overturned now.
The fight for equal rights is not over because there are no national laws protecting LGBTQI people from discrimination, especially in Georgia.
“This is a testament that things are changing and can change, but it also dramatizes how far Georgia still has to go with regards to employment and protections in accommodations. You can discriminate against anybody in Georgia for any reason based on sexual orientations,” Gibeling said.
“There will be people who will be fired or kicked out of their apartment because they have gotten married. That has been a pattern, across the country, in states that don’t have any legal protections” for LGBT citizens, Gibeling said.
CORRECTION AND UPDATE 1: A previous version of this article stated in error that Gibeling was a member of St. Luke’s. This article has been updated to state that he is a member of Lutheran Church of the Redeemer.