Recognition of same-sex marriage (SSM) & LGBT equality
Part 18: Alabama:
Marriage license availability in various counties.
Comments from the Governor and public.
Chief Justice Moore receives KKK support.
In this web site, the acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage. Also, "LGBT"
refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community
2015-FEB-10: Which counties are issuing marriage license?
The Alabama Media Group, on their web site AL.com, have a map of the state indicating the status of marriage licenses in each of the 67 counties in Alabama. 5 They showed that:
- 21 counties are following the U.S. Constitution and the District Court rulings by issuing licenses to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. (Shown in green). The cities of Anniston, Athens, Birmingham, Decatur, Gadsder, Hoover, Huntsville, Montgomery, and Selma are located in these cities.
- 18 counties are not issuing marriage licenses to anyone. (Yellow)
- 16 counties are accepting applications for marriage licenses but are not issuing licenses. (Orange)
- 10 counties are following the Alabama constitution, Alabama marriage law, and the order of Chief Justice Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court by issuing licenses to opposite-sex couples but not to same-sex couples. (Red)
- The status of two counties is unknown (Gray).
In most Alabama counties, if a same-sex couple lives where they cannot obtain a marriage license locally, they can simply drive to an adjacent county to obtain one. In about 7 counties, they would have to go through another county in order to arrive in a third county where they could obtain a license. For same-sex couples in Greene or Sumpter counties, they would have to drive through two adjacent counties to obtain a license.
However, every news source that we have seen reports different results. Also the status of various counties is probably changing rapidly as the conflict sorts itself out. So, if you are seeking a license, we recommend that you phone ahead to the courthouse to confirm their status.
There is little doubt about the final resolution of the conflict. Article VI , Paragraph 2 of the U.S. Constitution -- commonly referred to as the "Supremacy Clause" is the determining factor. According to the Legal Information Institute, the clause requires that:
"... the federal constitution, and federal law generally, take precedence over state laws, and even state constitutions." 6
Since the U.S. District Court has ruled in favor of marriage equality, and both the 11th U.S. Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court have refused to extend the stay of the District Court ruling, then it would seem that same-sex marriage has come to stay in Alabama, unless the U.S. Supreme Court issues an unexpected decision in mid-2015.
2015-FEB-10: Comments from the Governor and the Alabama public:
The New York Times collected some reactions from the Alabama Governor and public:
- Blake Guinn, a city councilman in a suburb of Birmingham who voted for Chief Justice Moore in 2012, said:
"I support states’ rights, too. But I just feel like time and time again we pick the wrong and losing battles."
- Diane McWhorter, author of the book “Carry Me Home” which deals with the civil rights-era Birmingham, said:
"It’s like our oxygen is defiance and our identity is aggrievement."
- Gov. Robert Bentley (R), like about 70% of the adult population of Alabama, disagrees with the order of the federal District Court. However, he feels strongly that defiance of the court was not appropriate, particularly at this time of year, which is close to the anniversary of the march from Selma to Montgomery which triggered a significant change in the attitudes of many Americans towards equal rights for Blacks. Referring to the famous 1963 incident at a door of the University of Alabama when the then Governor, George Wallace, tried to block the registration of two black students, he said:
"I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m trying to move this state forward."
There have been many states in the South and Midwest where the majority of adults oppose same-sex marriage. However, when courts had ruled that same-sex could marry, the change was implemented with little active opposition. Alabama, however, has proven quite different. It is in the deep South and has a state motto:
"We Dare Defend Our Rights."
Sarah Warbelow, the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign -- a leading national LGBT rights group said:
"In terms of what’s been going on in marriage equality in the past 18 months, this is really the only type of defiance of its kind." 8
2015-FEB-12: The Klu Klux Klan in Mississippi supports Chief Justice Moore in Alabama:
Brent Waller, the Imperial Wizard of the United Dixie White Knights -- the Mississippi branch of the Ku Klux Klan -- issued a statement in support of Chief Justice Moore:
"The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama's chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny. The Feds have no authority over individual States marriage laws. The fudgepackers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda!"
He urged Klansmen and other white supremacists to support:
"The Christian community's protests that are surly [sic] coming against tyranical [sic] Federal judges." 7
He does not appear to be an expert at English spelling.
2015-FEB-12: District Court orders Mobile County probate judge to issue marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples:
U.S. District Judge Callie Granade, had issued two rulings in late January. One involved a lesbian couple who had been married in California and wanted their marriage to be recognized in Alabama. The other case involved a gay couple who are unmarried and want to marry in Alabama where they live. Some of the probate judges refused to issue licenses to such couples because they had been ordered to decline by Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court.
In a new case, four same-sex couples filed a lawsuit with the same judge, naming Mobile Probate Judge Don Davis as defendant. He had refused to issue licenses to the plaintiffs. After hearing a half hour of testimony, Judge Granade wrote:
"This injunction binds Judge Don Davis and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage."
One of the plaintiffs, Robert Povilat, said:
"I am overjoyed. We are no longer second-class citizens."
Povilat is planning to marry Milton Persinger, who said:
"I am speechless. I've never been happier in my life."
Heather Fann, one of the plaintiffs' lawyers, said:
"We hope and expect that the remaining probate judges across the state of Alabama will understand the import of this decision."
In most of the U.S. states, this type of ruling from a U.S. District Court would probably be sufficient to establish marriage equality in each of its counties. But this is Alabama, whose state motto is: ""We Dare Defend Our Rights." That motto appears to refer to the right to discriminate against others.
During an interview on CNN, Chief Justice Moore said:
"If it's an unlawful mandate, you can refuse to mandate it. You can dissent to the United States Supreme Court. ... I will follow the law as I interpret it."
Referring to District Judge Callie Granade's injunction, he said:
"That's not the federal law. What you're confusing is law with the opinion of a [single] justice. What one lone federal judge says is not law.
Another of the plaintiffs' lawyers, Christine Herandez, said:
"It has been frustrating because we've done everything right, but the door is still closed. ... the door is literally closed." 9
The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.
- "Why Roy Moore’s gay marriage gambit isn’t just Alabama being Alabama," Washington Post, 2015-FEB-09, at: http://www.washingtonpost.com/
- "Scenes of same-sex marriage, and rejection, across Alabama," New York Times, 2015-FEB-09. at: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Bob Unruh, ""Federal judge refuses sanctions in 'gay marriage' case," WND, 2015-FEB-09, at: http://www.wnd.com/
- Brian Brown, "Thank Chief Justice Moore," National Organization for Marriage, 2015-FEB-10, at: http://www.nomblog.com/
- Mike Cason, et al., "See if your county is issuing licenses to same-sex couples," Alabama Media Group, 2015-FEB-10, at: http://www.al.com/
- "Supremacy Clause," Legal Information Institute, undated, at: http://www.law.cornell.edu/
- Paige Lavender, "Mississippi KKK Chapter Backs Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore In Anti-Gay Marriage Fight," Huffington Post, 2015-FEB-12, at: http://www.huffingtonpost.com/
- Campbell Robertson & Shala Dewan, "In Defiance on Gay Marriage, Alabama Sets Itself Far Apart," The New York Times, 2015-FEB-10, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
- Matthew Teague & Michael Muskal, "Federal judge in Alabama orders licenses be issued for gay marriage," Los Angeles Times, 2015-FEB-12, at: http://www.latimes.com/
Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious
Originally written: 2015-FEB-12
Latest update: 2015-FEB-12
Author: B.A. Robinson