“I feel now that the momentum is in our favor,” said Roberts. She is a member of the board of Georgia Equality, the state’s largest Lesbian, Gay, Bi-sexual and Transgendered Organization.
“Now that there’s been a change on the federal level, I think people will have more hope,” Robert said. “Today’s victories are going to energize and inspire people, and we’ll be able to present a much stronger movement based on today’s victories.”
The Supreme Court’s decision struck down Section 3 of the legislation, signed into law in 1996. That section defined marriage as a union between a man and a woman. In 12 states that recognize same sex marriage, couples will now have full federal recognition.
“There is a treasure trove of legal benefits from marriage,” said Alex Reed, a professor of legal studies in the UGA Terry College of Business. “From the ability to file tax returns jointly, to getting Social Security. There are something like 1,100 federal benefits to folks who have legally recognized marriages. “
Reed described the decision as “the opening salvo” of several years of litigation that could eventually mean same-sex marriage is recognized in each state. Will someone from a state like Georgia—that doesn’t recognize same-sex marriage—still receive federal benefits if he or she marries in New York, which does recognize same-sex marriage? That’s the question to be decided, he said.
What’s critical for Anthony Michael Kreis is how the Obama Administration implements the Supreme Court decision. If the administration says that the federal government is going to extend benefits to married same-sex couples, no matter where they reside,"it could mean other states will have to recognize those marriages."
Kreis is an attorney and a Ph.D. candidate in UGA’s School of Public and International Affairs. With a nationwide cohort of legal academics, Kreis assisted in legislation drafting efforts for marriage equality initiatives in various states, including the 2011 New York Marriage Equality Act. He is also a political coach for the Human Rights Campaign in Atlanta.
"Such a strong opinion today sets a very large precendent," he said. "It leads a path toward another Supreme Court decision that will invalidate other states' marriage stance. It will strike a blow to states that are trying to defend their same-sex marriage ban. Georgia's will be invalidated under the 14th Amendment."
Retired UGA employee Annette Hatton, who founded GLOBES (Gay, Lesbian or Bi-sexual Employees and Supporters), said that decision "is a great bit of sunshine. Now, Georgia will need to change more rapidly."