Will high court’s ruling affect gay marriage cases?

The U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in an affirmative action case Tuesday may have an impact on a Georgia same-sex marriage lawsuit filed here the same day.

The high court upheld a constitutional amendment passed in Michigan that bans the use of preferential treatment in college admissions based on race or ethnicity. The court’s opinion, authored by Justice Anthony Kennedy, gave great deference to the rights of voters to decide constitutional issues at the ballot box.

At roughly the same time, three gay and lesbian couples and a Decatur woman asked federal judge in Atlanta to strike down a constitutional amendment approved overwhelmingly by Georgia voters a decade ago. They say the referendum denies them the respect, dignity and legitimacy that marriage gives to different-sex couples and their children.

Some legal experts predict Kennedy’s decision could be used to buttress arguments by proponents of the marriage bans, while others say the ruling may not be as influential as it appears to be.

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