Judge Strikes Down Ga. Ban on Gay Marriage By GREG BLUESTEIN, Associated Press Writer Tue May 16, 9:20 PM ET ATLANTA - A judge on Tuesday struck down Georgia's ban on same-sex marriage, saying a measure overwhelmingly approved by voters in 2004 violated a rule that limits ballot questions to a single subject. Fulton County Superior Court Judge Constance C. Russell said the state's voters must first decide whether same-sex relationships should have any legal status before they can be asked whether to ban same-sex marriages. "People who believe marriages between men and women should have a unique and privileged place in our society may also believe that same-sex relationships should have some place — although not marriage," she wrote. The single-subject rule in the state constitution "protects the right of those people to hold both views and reflect both judgments by their vote," the judge said. Such procedural requirements "rarely enjoy popular support," she said, but they "ensure that the actions of government are constrained by the rule of law." The decision had been eagerly awaited by gay-rights supporters who filed the challenge in November 2004, soon after the ban was approved. Jack Senterfitt of the gay-rights organization Lambda Legal said the ruling "protects the right of voters to make independent decisions on each independent issue." Gov. Sonny Perdue said the decision ran counter to the voice of Georgia voters in defining marriage as a union between a man and a woman. "The people of Georgia knew exactly what they were doing when an overwhelming 76 percent voted in support of this constitutional amendment," he said. "It is sad that a single judge has chosen to reverse this decision." Perdue said the state is considering its options, which include appealing directly to the Georgia Supreme Court. Perdue spokesman Dan McLagan would not say if other options include calling a special session of the Legislature to place a revised question on the ballot in time for the November election. If that happens, gay-rights activists said they are prepared. "This is something that could be addressed in the next regular session if need be," said Chuck Bowen, director of Georgia Equality, the state's largest gay-advocacy organization. "But we're prepared for whatever the results are."