Chief among the claims made by states defending laws against marriage equality is the justification of the bans as child welfare measures. Courts in other jurisdictions have carefully considered 35 years of empirical data examining gay parents and outcomes for children in same-sex families. This relatively closed universe of data reveals that children in families headed by a same-sex couple experience positive outcomes, and reflects overwhelming support for the finding that allowing same-sex couples to marry benefits children in same-sex families.
Georgia offers no new arguments in defense of its marriage laws and proffers no new data to support its assertion that its ban serves children’s interests. Attorney General Sam Olens has advanced arguments that have been routinely rejected by other courts.
Why deploy the resources of the Georgia attorney general’s office and taxpayers’ money to fight legal battles the state is positioned to lose? The question is not whether Georgia’s attorney general can defend the state’s marriage laws; the question is whether he should. A cost-benefit analysis suggests the candle is not worth the wax, particularly when victory victimizes children.
Tanya M. Washington is an associate professor at the Georgia State University College of Law. She teaches family law, civil procedure and race law.