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Ga. to Appeal Gay 'Marriage' Ban Ruling

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia will appeal a judge's ruling that struck down its voter-approved ban on gay marriage, and the governor said Wednesday he will call a special legislative session if the state Su
( [email protected] ) May 18, 2006 10:39 AM EDT

ATLANTA (AP) - Georgia will appeal a judge's ruling that struck down its voter-approved ban on gay marriage, and the governor said Wednesday he will call a special legislative session if the state Supreme Court doesn't rule on the issue soon.

"I think the people spoke overwhelmingly. I think the people of Georgia knew exactly what they were voting for," Republican Gov. Sonny Perdue said.

The constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage was approved by 76 percent of the state's voters in November 2004. On Tuesday, however, Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell ruled the measure violated the Georgia Constitution's single-subject rules for ballot questions.

The ballot measure addressed issues other than gay marriage, including civil unions and the power of Georgia courts to rule on disputes arising from same-sex relationships.

Perdue said he would call a special session of the Legislature to propose another constitutional amendment to ban same-sex marriage if the high court did not rule by Aug. 7. The deadline for the measure to be printed on ballots for the November general election would be Aug. 14, he said.

A special session could cost taxpayers between $30,000 and $40,000 a day and could last at least a week.

State Attorney General Thurbert Baker said Russell's opinion was "wrongfully decided" and he would ask for an expedited ruling in the state's appeal to the Georgia Supreme Court.

He also pointed out that a Georgia law prohibiting same-sex marriage is still on the books, and that only the constitutional amendment was struck down.

The plaintiffs, including the American Civil Liberties Union and Lambda, believe the judge's ruling will be upheld.

"All these guys are running for election. And once again they're going to try to use gays and lesbians as their platform," said Chuck Bowen, director of Georgia Equality, the state's largest gay-advocacy organization. "They're using us to shield the real issues facing the state."

Associated Press Writer Greg Bluestein contributed to this report.

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