Lambda Legal has filed a federal lawsuit today challenging Georgia's ban on gay marriage on behalf of three same-sex couples and a widow, it announced at a press conference today:
The case was filed on behalf of Christopher Inniss and Shelton Stroman of Snellville (top left), Rayshawn Chandler and Avery Chandler of Jonesboro (top right), Michael Bishop and Shane Thomas of Atlanta (bottom right), and Jennifer Sisson of Decatur.
Joining Inniss and Stroman as plaintiffs in the lawsuit are: Rayshawn Chandler, 29, and Avery Chandler, 30, Atlanta Police Department police officers who have been together for almost three years; Michael Bishop, 50, and Shane Thomas, 44, together for seven years and the parents of two children; and Jennifer Sisson, 34, whose wife, Pamela Drenner, died on March 1 at age 49. Jennifer and Pam were married in New York in 2013. Despite being legally married, the State of Georgia has refused to list Jennifer as Pam's wife on Pam's death certificate.
Said Inniss, a veterinarian and pet resort owner:
"Georgia is our home. Our family is here, our business is here, and our community here is a great support for us. Shelton and I have been together for 13 years. We own a home together, we own a business together, and we are raising our son, Jonathan, together. We have done everything we can to protect and take responsibility for our family but marriage is the only way to ensure that we are treated as the family that we are. We need the protection that marriage affords."
Said Tara Borelli, Senior Attorney in Lambda Legal's Southern Regional Office based in Atlanta:
"Every day that same-sex couples in Georgia are denied the freedom to marry, the government sends a message that their families are not worthy of dignity and respect. Georgians believe in the Southern values of love, honor and family, but as long as the State of Georgia continues to bar same-sex couples from marriage, it devalues these families and reinforces unfairness and discrimination."
Read the full complaint HERE.
The Georgia Voice also has a few more interviews with all the plaintiffs.