GW Grad Challenges Georgia’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage

Michael & Shane, and familyThis week, I had the honor to speaking at the dinner of the Atlanta IP Inn of Court. I was particularly fortunate to spend time with Michael Bishop (shown here in the blue shirt and beard), one of George Washington Law School’s graduates and the incoming president of the Inn. In the course of our conversations, Michael told me about a lawsuit where he is actually a party as opposed to counsel. He and his partner, Shane, are suing for the basic right to marry — a right that is not only forbidden in Georgia but the state constitution goes further to ban the recognition of marriages from other states. The lawsuit is enormously important and well pleaded, as the complaint below attests. It could prove to be an excellent vehicle to again seek Supreme Court review, though that will take a while since it was just filed.

The well-written complaint states:

The history of the United States has been defined by the ability of each succeeding generation to recognize that social, economic, political, religious, and historical norms do not define our unalienable rights. As adopted in 1789, the Constitution of the United States permitted slavery, and allowed states to deny the majority of our adult citizens the right to vote, to criminalize inter-racial marriage, and to criminalize private consensual intimacy. But in time, the American ideal of equality and liberty demanded that our government move past cultural and majority oppressions, however long-standing, in order to secure and fulfill the individual rights of all citizens.

Some 17 states and the District of Columbia now allow same-sex couples to marry in what is becoming a powerful trend. Recently, courts in Utah, Texas, and Tennessee struck down laws barring such marriages.

On April 10th, Michael and his partner Shane Thomas walked into Fulton County Probate Court and stood stand. They asked to be married. They were refused and they then filed with others this important lawsuit. Their story is inspiring but not unlike so many that we have seen around the country as loving couples are denied this basic right. Thomas, 44, and Bishop, 50, are both born and raised in the South and both were raised Baptist. They have two wonderful kids: Thomas, 4; and his little sister Mariella, 3, who call them “Daddy” and “Big Daddy.” What they do not have is a marriage license or any of the rights or privileges that come from that status.

This is a particularly well crafted complaint with a good variety of parties, including a widow, that have standing to raise this challenge.

We will be following it in the weeks to come. I was very proud to see that Michael was one of our graduates and will now be at the forefront of a great civil rights battle. Thomas and Mariella will some day read about this struggle and I believe look back with tremendous pride that their fathers fought equal rights at this critical time in our history.

I am also please to see that Bryan Cave (a firm with which I have had a long relationship in pro bono litigation) is counsel of record in the case. On the complaint from Bryan Cave are William V. Custer, Jennifer D. Odom, Jennifer B. Dempsey, Luke Lanntta, and Douglas E. Winter. Also on the complaint are attorneys from Lambda Legal Defense Fund and White & Case.

Dkt. 1 – 2014-04-22 – Complaint

21 thoughts on “GW Grad Challenges Georgia’s Ban On Same-Sex Marriage”

  1. There is a guy out in Nevada, rather wealthy, who has no kids, no wife, no heirs at all. He has a Will and has named his dog Fido as his sole heir or beneficiary. The Will sets up a trust for Fido. Its called The Fido Trust. But the guy went further and had a priest and a rabbi each preside over his marriage to the dog. The dog is a female so its not same sex marriage and the priest and the rabbi went with it. We might see more of this sort of thing.

    1. Al – India allows people to marry animals, why not here. The thinking behind human-animal marriage is the same as same-sex marriage. I am hoping the guy trying to marry his porn loaded laptop is successful. His suit is based on the same legal theory as same sex marriage. I can see some technical difficulties to his marriage, like upgrading systems, etc. but lots of married partners have work done on them.

  2. There is, in my view, a little problem regarding the term, “same sex.”

    “Sex” is an activity characteristic of all sexually reproducing species.

    For two people to actually and factually be the “same sex”, the two people would have to have had the same (that is, identical) sexual experiences and have the same sexual label.

    Two experiences are the same when they happen at identically the same time and happen identically in the same space (the particle model of the wave-particle duality) and also have identically the same wave function for all of time and space.

    The physics is simple, so simple that someone as stupid as I am can understand it

    If two things or if two events are actually the same, there is never more than one of them.

    As no two different people can possibly have had absolutely and identically the same sexual experiences, both outwardly and inwardly, there can never be two people who truthfully are the same sex, regardless of gender labeling..

  3. Sorry for the poor copy paste above.

    Here’s a screenshot of the last few paragraphs.

  4. Annie and others,
    This is a good TedXwomen talk that discusses the point of discrimination and perceptions.

  5. Max, thanks for posting that. One can see what decent guys these are. That people continue to want to deny families a path to legalize their marriages is beyond me. To think that they have to fight for a right we take for granted is disturbing.

  6. Al,
    Religious marriage is between a man and a woman, performed by a pedophile.”
    LOL… Good one!!!

    1. Els Dl, I have deleted a comment under our civility rule containing a personal attack.

  7. As predicted, Paul Schulte goes there…

    Mr. Turley,
    Thanks for highlighting their case. May the long arch of Justice shine in their favor. Their children deserve it.

  8. on 1, May 9, 2014 at 9:11 ambigfatmike
    Soooo…..those are the guys that have a secrete agenda to destroy marriage and the family????
    Yeah BFM, they look soooo dangerous. 😉

    What a lovely family, they look like wonderful people. I hope they get to share in the same Consitutional rights we heterosexuals do, soone than later. My best wishes to them.

  9. Traditions may offer comfort in their familiarity, but are not a reasonable basis for making laws.

  10. Which one had the kids and don’t tell me out of what orifice?
    Religious marriage is between a man and a woman, performed by a pedophile.
    Civil marriage is between two of a kind, whatever kind.

  11. Soooo…..those are the guys that have a secrete agenda to destroy marriage and the family????

  12. For Karen.

    An ACA anecdote from a gay man. (Sorry for the tenuous connection to the post)

    Source: Sullivan’s The Dish

    I’m one of the people who was not able to keep my old insurance policy and is now paying more than double each month for my policy. I should mention a few things about my old policy. When I first purchased it back in 2002, I was 35 and had never had any major health issues, so it seemed like a great policy. The premiums were low. Sure, it had a $3500 deductible and no prescription coverage, but so what. I was young and healthy.

    Until I wasn’t.

    Just before I turned 40, I experienced some medical issues that resulted in hospitalization and ongoing care. Everything is fine now, but for about six months I was seeing doctors once a week. While my insurance did cover most of it, I still faced some large bills due to the deductible and prescription costs. The experience revealed the severe limitations of the policy. It was basically a catastrophic coverage plan. Of course now that I was the proud new owner of a “pre-existing condition”, it was the plan I was stuck with up until this year.

    The view from my Obamacare is that my new policy has a premium that is a bit more than twice what my old insurance cost. My new policy also has prescription coverage and a very low deductible. I added things up and with my new policy, I am expecting to save thousands of dollars each year. My Obamacare may cost me more in premiums but it will offer significant savings elsewhere.

    Which brings me to my “Dish Double”. After your articles about Truvada, I made an appointment with my doctor to see about starting a PrEP regimen. My doctor was immediately open to it. I had the required blood tests and my doctor called in the prescription. When I went to pick it up, I was expecting the worst. I wasn’t sure if my new Obamacre would cover it but If I had to pay the full $1,700 monthly cost I would. It was just too important to me. When I got to the counter, I discovered that my monthly cost for Truvada is …


    Right now the view from my Obamacare is fantastic, and as of last week I’m on the pill.

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