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Same-sex marriage law challenges many laws across Georgia

Does the same-sex marriage ruling affect Georgia? Yes. In fact, because of it, same-sex couples can now wed and take advantage of benefits once restricted to opposite-gender marriages. Same-sex couples can file tax returns together, adopt children, and even make medical decisions for one another in emergencies.

Before this ruling, many people argued that a same-sex marriage and traditional marriage should not be different. Legally, a civil ceremony was binding, but it didn't come with the same kinds of benefits as a traditional marriage between a man and woman. After many years of fighting for equality, same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015.

Technically, the same-sex marriage ruling only affects marriage between gay or lesbian couples. However, it's having a cascade effect as the definition of a marriage changes. According to the constitution, all people deserve equal dignity in the eyes of the law, and any laws that restrict gay or lesbian couples doesn't do that. Combined with the ruling, this fact helps the impact of the ruling reach far beyond marriage into other areas of lesbian, gay, transgender, and bisexual issues.

For instance, because of the way Ohio's laws worked previously, when one man, who was married to another, died, his spouse wasn't able to be listed as the surviving spouse on the man's death certificate. In the past, that could have influenced survivor's benefits and other things that the man's spouse deserved but was unable to receive. Now, he will at the very least be able to be listed as a surviving spouse on the man's death certificate.

Source: My AJC, "What the same-sex marriage ruling means in Georgia," Bill Rankin, accessed Aug. 19, 2015

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