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Religious Tolerance logo

Recognition of same-sex marriage (SSM) & LGBT equality

Part 20: Alabama: 2015-FEB-09:
First same-sex marriage ceremony solemnized.
Probate judges mainly obeying District Court
in the midst of massive chaos.

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In this web site, the acronym "SSM" refers to same-sex marriage. Also, "LGBT"
refers to the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual community

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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LGBT symbol 2015-FEB-09: About the first marriage of a same-sex couple in Alabama (Cont'd):

Rev. Dr. Ellin Jimmerson is a "minister to the community" at Weatherly Heights Baptist Church in Huntsville, AL. On the first day that licenses became available to same-sex couples in a few Alabama counties, she solemnized the marriage of Yashinari Effinger and Adrian Thomas. The ceremony was held in Big Spring Park near the courthouse in Huntsville. It was attended by friends and nearly 100 strangers. This was the first same-sex marriage to be legally solemnized in Alabama. Here is a video of the event that brought so much joy to the couple and the attendees, even as it probably created great sadness to most Alabamians.

 1

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2015-FEB-10: SBC leaders call for dissociation of the Weatherly Heights congregation from the Southern Baptist Conference:

Two Southern Baptist leaders in Alabama have issued a statement calling for the SBC disassociate itself from the Weatherly Heights congregation. Rick Lance, executive director of the Alabama Board of Missions, and Pastor Travis Coleman, president of the Alabama Baptist State Convention issued a joint statement, saying:

"[A]ny church that allows staff members to officiate at same-sex ceremonies is clearly outside biblical teachings about marriage and human sexuality, and they demonstrate that they are not in like-minded fellowship or friendly cooperation with Alabama Baptists and Southern Baptists." 2

In reality, Jimmerson is not a "staff member" of the church. She is a member at Weatherly Heights who is a "minister to the community."

There are many conflicting interpretations about passages in the Bible that discuss same-gender sexual behavior, and how they might apply to same-sex marriage. Conservative Christians have generally agreed that the passages forbid such behavior and same-sex marriage. Liberal Christians have reached the opposite interpretation. Unfortunately, the conflict does not seem to be resolvable by assessing the will of God through prayer. So, as usual, we have a conflict without a resolution, much debate, but no real effort at dialogue to overcome differences.

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2015-FEB-10: Alabama is unique in its opposition to marriage equality:

Campbell Robertson and Shaila Dewan of the New York Times commented that in Alabama:

  • More than a third of residents are Christian fundamentalists or other evangelicals.

  • About 70% of adult Alabamians -- both blacks and whites -- oppose marriage equality.

They wrote:

"Alabama is not unique among states in strongly opposing same-sex marriage, and it is not alone in bristling under a federal court order that goes against a substantial popular majority. It is, however, the only state where probate judges who would issue same-sex marriage licenses were instructed not to comply with a federal court order." 3

Sarah Warbelow is the legal director for the Human Rights Campaign, one of the main national groups promoting marriage equality. She 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." 3

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2015-FEB-12: Christ Cuomo of CNN's Hew Day program conducts a heated and painful interview of Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court:

Caution: This video is 25 minutes long. A brief commercial at the 5 minute point has an obnoxiously loud audio track:

 4

Chief Justice Roy Moore made an important statement in this video. CNN commented that Chief Justice Roy Moore:

"... will continue to resist efforts to implement same-sex marriage in his state, even if the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage later this year.

Chief Justice Roy Moore likened an eventual U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage to the Dred Scott ruling and Plessy v. Ferguson, two 19th century Supreme Court rulings that upheld slavery and segregation, respectively.

"If it's an unlawful mandate you can refuse to mandate it. You can dissent to the United States Supreme Court," Moore said in a testy interview with CNN's Chris Cuomo on "New Day." "I will follow the law as I interpret it." 5

In other words, if the U.S. Supreme Court legalizes marriage across the United States, Chief Justice Moore will refuse to recognize the court's ruling. He puts his own religiously-based beliefs ahead of the Supreme court's decision. If a significant percentage of judges were to do this, there would be complete anarchy throughout the country, not just limited to one state.

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Webmaster's comment [bias alert]

As this interview displays clearly that the conflicts in Alabama over marriage equality appear to be the result of a fundamental disagreement about the structure of the United States. There is no consensus in that state about the roles of the state courts, the federal District Court, the 11th U.S., Circuit Court of Appeals, the U.S. Supreme Court, the state constitution, the federal constitution, and state sovereignty. There is no consensus on the nature of sexual orientation, the origin of marriage, the allowable range of definitions of marriage, the origin of human rights, who defines marriage, whether a state's definition of marriage must agree with the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, and probably a few more topics that we have not found. The result is that mass chaos continues in the state over marriage equality with little or no hope for a quick resolution.

The solution is dialogue. However, although lots of debating is going on, little or no dialogue has taken place or is expected in the future.

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2015-FEB-13: The number of probate judges who are issuing marriage licenses is increasing:

The new ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade on FEB-12 was directed at Probate Judge Don Davis of Mobile County as the defendant. However, she emphasized that her decision applied also to the other probate judges in Alabama in the remaining 66 counties. She stressed that since the constitutional amendment and marriage law that ban same-sex marriages are both unconstitutional and void, marriage licenses must be available in all Alabama counties for qualified same-sex couples.

Fred Sainz, a spokesperson for the Human Rights Campaign -- one of the leading national organizations promoting marriage equality -- said:

"These numbers represent a seismic shift in favor of equality and justice. Resistance to happy, loving and committed same-sex couples getting married is quickly crumbling throughout the state."

Probate judge Bill English in Lee County said that Granade's order "makes it clear" he had to open his courthouse doors.

The number of counties issuing licenses to same-sex couples rose from 20 on Monday to at least 47 by Friday. There are a total of 67 counties in Alabama. Thus, if licenses are not available in a couple's county of residence, they don't have to drive far to find a county that will supply them with a license. 6

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This topic continues in the next essay.

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References used:

The following information sources were used to prepare and update the above essay. The hyperlinks are not necessarily still active today.

  1. "Marriage Equality: Huntsville, AL's Same Sex Wedding on 2/9/2015," Left in Alabama, 2015-FEB-10, at: http://youtu.be/
  2. Kay Campbell, "First - and last - Southern Baptist minister for gay weddings? SBC leaders censure Huntsville church," Alabama Media Group, 2015-FEB-08, at: http://www.al.com/living/
  3. Campbell Robertson & Shaila Dewan, "In Defiance on Gay Marriage, Alabama Sets Itself Far Apart," New York Times, 2015-FEB-10, at: http://www.nytimes.com/
  4. "Roy Moore vs Chris Cuomo in CNN Explosive Interview over Gay Marriage," CNN, 2015-FEB-12, at: https://www.youtube.com/
  5. Jeremy Diamond, "Chief Alabama judge would defy Supreme Court in gay marriage ruling," CNN, 2015-FEB-12, at: http://www.cnn.com/
  6. Campbell Robertson, "Most Alabama Judges Begin to Issue Licenses for Same-Sex Marriages," New York Times, 2015-FEB-13, at: http://www.nytimes.com/

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    Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Alabama > here

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Copyright © 2015 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2015-FEB-14
Latest update: 2015-FEB-19
Author: B.A. Robinson

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