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Will Georgia be the next state to legalize gay marriage?

In recent years, the public opinion of same-sex marriage has shifted rapidly and many states now allow same-sex marriage. And, this summer the U.S. Supreme Court issued a historic ruling on gay marriage, striking down a key element of the federal Defense of Marriage Act. In the aftermath of that ruling, the federal government will recognize same-sex marriages. With these sweeping changes, many people are wondering whether Georgia will soon change its tune on same-sex marriage.

Last week, the University of Georgia held a panel on the topic, and one of the panelists predicted that half of the states will move toward legalizing gay marriage by 2020, but Georgia will not be among them.

A recent New York Times poll seems to support that prediction. The poll found that within seven years, more Americans will be in favor of same-sex marriage than against same-sex marriage, but many southern states will remain opposed.

While it is impossible to predict the future, the quickly evolving arena of gay marriage rights has left a patchwork of laws in its wake - making for very complicated family law disputes.

Here in Georgia, although same-sex couples do not enjoy the legal benefits of marriage and divorce, many couples do have marriage-like relationships and they should ensure that their rights as families and individuals are protected to the extent possible.

It is possible for same-sex couples to prepare cohabitation agreements and other contracts in order to stipulate the division of assets should the relationship end. Same-sex couples may also prepare wills and health care proxies in order to legally protect their rights as couples. These are just a couple of the options that same-sex couples do have today, in Georgia, in order to protect their best interests.

Source: Athens Banner-Herald, "Many states, not Georgia, might start to allow same-sex marriage, says UGA panelist," Lea Shearer, Sept. 4, 2013

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