Stockbridge resident Jazzie Jones-Smith, left, talks about her same-sex marriage to her business partner, Sonny Jones-Smith, during a marriage equality press conference in Morrow Tuesday. The couple is encouraging same-sex couples across Georgia to protest the state’s gay marriage ban by filing applications for marriage licenses May 1. (Staff Photo: Curt Yeomans)
MORROW — Stockbridge residents Jazzie and Sonny Jones-Smith were on their way to a son’s wedding in Martha’s Vineyard when they decided to take the plunge themselves.
They stopped in Washington D.C., got a marriage license and were married in a friend’s kitchen. They couldn’t wait to get back to Georgia to wed but that wasn’t because they were impatient about tying the knot. It was because the state’s constitution forbid them from getting married.
Jazzie and Sonny Jones-Smith are both women.
“It was bittersweet because we love each other and because you can only do the legal ceremony once, we had to make an exodus to get married,” said Jazzie Jones-Smith.
The couple, which runs an internet radio show through their company, LouddmouthRadio.com, are trying to organize a statewide protest to win marriage equality for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender residents. During a press conference at the Morrow Center Tuesday that they are asking same-sex couples to participate in their MayDay Georgia Marriage Equality Campaign by going to their county governments and applying for marriage licenses May 1.
“We are asking same-sex couple in Georgia to go to their county and just politely ask for a marriage license application, fill it out, hand it back tot he clerk and allow them to do what they do — and just smile when you hand it to them,” said Sonny Jones-Smith.
The couple said they were inspired to push for their MayDay protest by another marriage equality press conference held in Atlanta in February. There are more than 21,000 same-sex couples in Georgia, they said.
Same-sex couples have been barred from marrying each other by the Georgia Constitution since voters overwhelmingly passed an anti-gay marriage amendment in 2004. In recent years, Georgia couples — along with couples from other states which ban gay marriage — have gone to states where it is not illegal to get married.
But, the Georgia’s marriage ban means those couples are not recognized as being married in their home state.
Alternative Perspectives radio host Betty Couvetier, an advocate who worked to the defeat the constitutional amendment, said opponents of the ban were left “devastated” when it passed. However, she also said that denial of a marriage license to a same-sex couple in Georgia could open the door to a legal challenge to the amendment in federal courts.
“Once they are denied that marriage license, they become part of the bigger picture,” Couvetier said.