Ga Ct App apparently does not recognize Vermont's civil union
as creating a marriage-like status for visitation purposes
Tobias Barrington Wolff
tbwolff at UCDAVIS.EDU
Tue Jan 29 11:25:00 PST 2002
The Georgia case is unfortunate for any number of reasons.
First, this was the worst type of recognition dispute to serve as a first
test, as it is a classic example of an "avoidance" case: The couple, who
were domiciled in Georgia, travelled to Vermont for the express purpose of
obtaining a civil union that was not available in their home State. States
have frequently denied recognition to marriages, though valid where
performed, if the couple deliberately sought to avoid a restriction that
their State of domicile imposed by crossing state lines to get married and
then returning home. As a matter of state law, the case might have been
very different had Susan Freer and her partner been domiciled in Vermont
when they were united and later made a bona fide move to another State.
Second, and more importantly, it is unfortunate that such an attempt at
avoidance was even necessary for Ms. Freer. Georgia, like most States,
denies any protection or support to the committed relationships of gay and
lesbian couples, even though, like all States, it provides broad protection
and support to the committed relationships of straight couples. Most
States don't even try to justify such discrimination as anything other than
open hostility toward gay people and gay relationships. The comments of
Ms. Freer's husband are certainly reflective of such hostility: He offers,
as his reason for fighting to deny his wife any visitation rights with her
three sons, that "He doesn't believe that lesbianism or homosexuality is
appropriate to be displayed in an overnight setting in front of his children."
At 12:17 AM 1/29/2002 -0800, you wrote:
> by way of <http://www.andrewsullivan.com>http://www.andrewsullivan.com
> . I don't know whether the opinion is online; if you know its location
> (on the Web or on WESTLAW), please do pass it along.
>ATLANTA, Georgia (AP) -- A Georgia appeals court has ruled that Vermont's
>civil unions law does not create a partnership equal to marriage, the
>of the landmark law that gives some marriage rights to same-sex couples.
>The Georgia Court of Appeals ruled that Susan Freer and her lesbian
>not seek child-visitation rights because they are not married. The couple
>a civil union in Vermont in 2000.
>Freer has three sons from a marriage that ended in 1995. A visitation
>with her ex-husband, Darian Burns, forbids the children to stay overnight
>parent who is living with someone to whom they are not married or related.
>. . .
>Freer had argued that the women consider themselves married and should be
>protected by Georgia's right-to-privacy law. Her attorney could not be
>Friday. . . .
>The Georgia Legislature has barred recognition of same-sex marriage.
* * *
Tobias Barrington Wolff
Assistant Professor of Law
U.C. Davis Law School
-------------- next part --------------
An HTML attachment was scrubbed...
More information about the Conlawprof