Recognition of same-sex marriage (SSM) & LGBT equality
Part 15: Alabama:
2015-FEB-09 & 10:
AL.com writes editorial.
Analysis of evangelical statement about SSM
Couples get licenses, sometimes in other counties.
Good & bad reactions to marriage equality.
In this web site, the acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage. Also, "LGBT"
refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community
Webmaster's note: (bias alert)
Although Rev. Floyd's beliefs are widely held by funamentalist and other evangelical Christians, there are some factual errors in his statement:
- The Hebrew word mistranslated in Leviticus 18 as "abomination" in the Bible actually refers to a practice that is ritually impure. Other examples of the same word are found elsewhere in the Hebrew Scriptures (Old Testament) in passages condemning the eating of shellfish or pork, or getting a tattoo. Most Christians feel that such a law is not binding on persons other than Jews. Also, many Christians interpret the passage as referring to men having sex with sacred prostitutes in Pagan temples instead of referring to men engaging in consensual sexual behavior with other men who are in a close relationship.
- Romans 1 does not condemn all sexual behavior between two persons of the same gender. Rather, it condemns men and women with a heterosexual orientation who engage in pagan orgies with members of the same-sex -- a practice that is against their basic nature.
- Sodom and Gomorra were destroyed because men who lived there wanted to rape two visiting male angels. Their attempted sexual violation of the angels may have been condemned because it was rape and/or because it involved bestiality; the angels were of a species other than human.
- Much more information on the six "clobber" passages in the Bible that are widely used by religious conservatives to condemn same-gender sexual behavior is available.
The Alabama Media Group board writes editorial:
"... Yes, some continue to believe same-sex marriage is immoral, that it is a twisting of a covenant intended for man and woman. Yet the legality of the ruling by U.S. District Judge Ginny Grenade has been upheld despite state appeal. While not all will ever support same-sex marriage, all Alabamians - including the members of the Alabama Supreme Court -- must respect the legal process involved in arriving at this point.
While we understand the discomfort and anger engendered by this sea change, our appeal today is that all follow the law and show respect and civility towards one another. The eyes of America will certainly be upon us.
Monday will also be a day to show patience. This process is new for all involved and employees in counties throughout the state are being asked to do things they've not done before. There will be bumps in the road and mistakes will be made. How we handle those mistakes will be what ultimately ensures fairness for all.
It is unreasonable to ask people to turn their back on deeply-held beliefs regarding marriage. This does not give us an excuse, however, to abandon other deeply-held convictions regarding how we treat our neighbors." 7
The editorial board's final comment quoted above may be intended as a reference to one of the commands of Yeshua of Nazareth (Jesus Christ). Th is is the Golden Rule found in all major religions and some philosophical systems: One should treat others as one would like others to treat oneself.
Sadly, recent months have shown many instances where many in the LGBT community have fought for marriage equality, even as many others have stridently asserted their religious freedom to discriminate against the LGBT community. For some reason, the Golden Rule is ignored.
Probate Judge Steven L. Reed of Montgomery County, referring to the crisis throughout the South over school desegregation half a century previously, said:
"I don’t want to see judges make the same mistakes that I think were made in this state 50 years ago, where you have state officials not abiding by federal orders. The legacy always hangs over us until we show that we’re beyond it." 8
Marriage of another same-sex couple:
Anna Lisa Carmichael, 33, and Meredith Miller, 32, had already been legally married out-of-state. However Alabama did not recognize their union. They were viewed as "legal strangers" -- as mere roommates. They had joined a lawsuit naming Don Davis, the Probate Judge of Mobile County, as defendant. They obtained a ruling from the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama, Southern division ordering Davis to issue licenses to qualified same-sex couples.
Carmichael and Miller were concerned that a future court order might reverse recent rulings. They decided that they should be re-married in Alabama in the hopes that even if the window closed on such marriages in the future, their second marriage in Alabama might be recognized by the courts as valid. On FEB-10, they rushed to the Mobile County Probate Court to obtain a marriage license before it closed early for the annual Mardi Gras celebration.
Eliott C. McLaughlin, writing for CNN News, said:
"They come from conservative states and religious families. Carmichael, [and] Miller ... dated members of the opposite sex for years -- that's what their families, peers, churches and media portrayals told them to do -- but it didn't feel right.
'We live in South Alabama. We live in the Bible Belt. It's not something that's condoned. It's not something that's normal. Who in their right mind would choose to live this way if you had a choice?' Miller asked."
In 2005, they were each involved in a lesbian relationship with other women.
"Carmichael comes from a religious, conservative family in Hammond, Louisiana, and felt she had no one to talk to. Miller's family in Mobile is Catholic, and while she enjoys more familial support than Carmichael, she was reluctant to broadcast her relationship."
The next year, they became roommates, and their relationship became serious.
After being married on FEB-10 in Mobile County Carmichael said:
"I love Meredith, and our relationship is full of love. I don't think when you're talking true, unadulterated love that there can be anything wrong with that,"
"God's greatest command was to love one another."
"So to recap: Told most of their lives being gay is abhorrent to God, Carmichael and Miller seek God's blessing before uniting with one another [even] as many in Alabama use God's word to cast what Carmichael and Miller feel in their hearts as sin." 1
Some resources that marrying same-sex couples In Alabama might find helpful are:
- One Alabama maintains a list of "LGBTQ-friendly lawyers, counselors, financial planners, bakers, photographers" and other resources for couples getting married. 2
- The Alabama Media Group has a list of officiants in Alabama who are willing to marry same-sex couples. Their article also has links to lists by other groups. 3
Reactions in Alabama to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling and to the marriages of same-sex couples:
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said:
"I regret the Supreme Court’s decision not to stay the Federal District Court’s ruling until the high court finally settles the issue this summer. In the absence of a stay, there will likely be more confusion in the coming months leading up to the Supreme Court’s anticipated [nationwide] ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage." 4
It is unclear what will generate confusion during the next few months. There certainly has been confusion in the recent past as the state exhausted all its options to stop marriage equality. But it was generated largely by Attorney General Strange himself in his multiple legal attempts to prevent same-sex couples from marrying. Many happy, loving, committed couples are now married and are enjoying the federal and state benefits, protections, security, and status of married life for themselves and their children. Many more will undoubtedly marry in the next few months.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue its ruling during late June or early July in the case involving SSMs in four contiguous states: Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. It is possible -- perhaps probable -- that the Court will decide that all bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and that every state must practice marriage equality. Alternately, the high court could conceivably decide that no American has the right to marry a person of the same sex; they might forcibly divorce all married same-sex couples. But these alternatives are something for same-sex couples to be concerned -- not confused -- about.
Governor Robert Bentley (R) issued a statement complaining about what he called the high court's:
"cavalier attitude towards the states ... This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for probate judges in Alabama. Probate judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. ... I will not take any action against probate judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue. ... We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same-sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels." 5,6
Judge Alan L. King of Probate Court in Jefferson County commented on his thought process leading to his decision to defy Chief Justice Moore's order and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He said:
"At the end of the day, it’s still a very simple legal analysis: You’ve got a federal court order. This is a happy day for all of these couples, and if you can’t be happy for people, then I’m sorry. If someone can’t understand the joy and happiness of others, then I don’t know what else I can say." 4
With disapproval of same-sex marriage running at about 70% in Alabama, we suspect that most of Alabamians will initially be displeased that their beloved state has become the latest state -- the 38th -- to attain marriage equality.
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- Eliott C. McLaughlin, "Past and present clash over same-sex marriage in Deep South," CNN News, 2015-FEB-20, at: http://www.cnn.com/
- "List of LGBTQ-friendly Service Providers," One Alabama, 2015-JAN-26, at: http://onealabama.org/
- Cassie Fambro "Who is willing to marry gay couples? Here's a list by county," Alabama Media Group, 2015-FEB-05, at: http://www.al.com/
- Ryan Phillips, "Same-sex marriage starts in Alabama, but some counties defy federal ruling," Birmingham Business Journal, 2015-FEB-09, at: http://www.bizjournals.com/
- Matthew Teague, "In Alabama, a patchwork of reactions over same-sex marriage," Los Angeles Times, 2015-FEB-09, at: http://www.latimes.com/
- Erik Eckholm, "Supreme Court Undercuts Alabama Chief Justice’s Argument to Delay Same-Sex Marriages," New York Times, 2015-FEB-10, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
- "Our view: Historic day gives Alabamians opportunity to show civility and respect to all," AL.com, 2015-FEB-09, at: http://www.al.com/
- "Kim Chandler & Jay Reeves, "Alabama judge’s objections to gay marriage raise echoes of 1960s race issue," The Seattle Times, 2015-FEB-09, at: http://seattletimes.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2015-FEB-09
Latest update: 2015-FEB-22
Author: B.A. Robinson