ATLANTA – Georgia’s top lawyer said Wednesday that he would not fight if the U.S. Supreme Court rules in June that gay marriage is a right and that state bans are unconstitutional.

Attorney General Sam Olens was responding to a reporter’s question during a speech to the Atlanta Press Club.

The nation’s highest court is expected to rule soon on one of the country’s most volatile issues. It’s trying to set a national position after conflicting decisions by various federal courts have created confusion.

However the top court ultimately decides, Olens said he is prepared with his advice because that decision will become the law of the land.
“We’re going to encourage all of those agencies that have a policy role that they immediately follow the law,” he said.

Olens, who defended Georgia’s own gay-marriage ban in a federal case that is still pending, said that he merely represents state government in court and doesn’t try to make policy himself.

Without naming names, Olens rejected the practice of trying to prolong implementation of a court decision, as some other states’ attorneys general have done when circuit appellate courts have ruled in favor of same-sex marriage.

“I cringe just as much when an attorney general seeks to defy the law as when anyone else does it,” he said. “When the United States Supreme Court rules, it’s not time for criticism; it’s not time for banter; it’s time for the lawyer to play lawyer and to assure that everyone follows that law.”

On the related issue of the religious-liberty legislation that caused so much controversy during this year’s legislative session, Olens said it was possible to draft a bill that would protect an individual’s religious beliefs without opening the door to discrimination. However, he declined to say how it would be worded.

Many opponents of the legislation argued that it would be used to prevent local governments from prohibiting discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. People on both sides point to the question of whether a small-business owner should be required to provide service to a gay couple even when doing so conflicts with the owner’s religious values.

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