Attorney General Sam Olens says he will advise compliance by state agencies if the U.S. Supreme Court invalidates state bans on same-sex marriage even as he continues defending Georgia’s ban in federal court.
Olens told reporters Wednesday that he intends to counsel acquiescence should the high court ultimately invalidate marriage bans nationwide when it considers the issue later this spring.
“We’re going to advise those agencies that have policy roles to immediately follow the law,” Olens said at an Atlanta Press Club breakfast.
The Supreme Court will hear arguments next week in four consolidated cases challenging the bans in Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee. A ruling isn’t expected until the end of the court’s term, in late June.
Until then, Olens will continue defending Georgia’s decade-old ban in federal court. It was challenged in April last year—one year to the day of Olen’s comments Wednesday—by national gay rights group Lambda Legal on behalf of four local couples.
Olens, in an October court filing, said that “the right to marry” has always been a “fundamental right,” as the Supreme Court has ruled more than a dozen times. “But,” he said, “that right has never previously been understood as extending to same-sex couples.”
U.S. District Judge William Duffey, a Republican-appointed judge, in January declined to dismiss the suit, saying the state had failed to address how its interests are furthered in denying equal marriage to gays and lesbians.
[Full disclosure: Richardson, and a couple hundred other prominent Republicans, signed an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court urging the justices issue a national ruling for the freedom to marry and previously urged Olens to abandon his defense of Georgia’s ban.]