2015-JAN-25: The District Court ruling is temporarily stayed:
The Attorney General's office wrote:
"... if the action is not stayed, Defendant and the State of Alabama will suffer irreparable harm if marriages are recognized on an interim basis that are ultimately determined to be inconsistent with Alabama law, resulting in confusion in the law and in the legal status of marriages." 1
Instead of a stay that would last about six months until the high court releases its ruling, District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama chose to invoke a shorter 14-day stay. It expires on FEB-09. This will give the state sufficient time to appeal the case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and perhaps have that Circuit Court invoke its own stay.
Reactions to the ruling and stay:
The Alabama Probate Judges Association supported the Attorney General.
Attorneys for the Association filed a brief with Judge Granade stating:
"It is not reasonable to expect that fundamental changes to the administration of Alabama's marriage laws can be uniformly and efficiently implemented between Friday evening of one week and Monday morning of the following week without mass confusion in probate offices across the state of Alabama." 2
This appears to be a weak argument, because it should take less than a minute just before the office doors open on that Monday for court clerks to be told to:
Accept marriage license applications from same-sex couples as well as opposite-sex couples.
Modify the marriage license application forms by striking out the column headings "Bride" and "Groom" and replacing them with "Applicant 1" and "Applicant 2.
Plaintiff Searcy said:
"We just have to wait a couple more weeks. No big deal. We've [already] been waiting nine years."
The other plaintiff, Kim McKeand, said:
"I feel blessed. ... I'm still dancing." 3
Christine Hernandez, an attorney representing the plaintiffs said in a statement:
"Judge Granade in her order specifically agreed with the Plaintiffs on all points ... We respect Judge Granade's decision and look forward to Feb. 9."
Attorney General Strange issued a statement saying:
"While I would have preferred a longer stay to allow the matter to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court's anticipated ruling in June, the 14-day stay allows more time for my office to prepare our stay request to the 11th Circuit Court while also affording the public time to resolve the confusion over the impact of the recent ruling." 2
He had expressed concern that if same-sex couples were to marry, and if the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court later declared these marriages to be invalid, that the sate would be harmed by the resulting confusion.
Judge Granade rejected his argument in her ruling, saying:
"What the Attorney General is describing is harm that may occur to those whose marriages become legal or who are permitted to marry by the State while the injunction is in place, only to have them nullified if this court's ruling is overturned.
This is not a harm to the State, but rather a potential harm to the same-sex couples whose marriage arrangements recognized or entered into during the period of the injunction which may be subject to future legal challenge by the State if the injunction is overturned. 2
Rev. Mack Morris, pastor of Woodridge Baptist Church in west Mobile, AL. In his sermon he said that:
"... same-sex marriage has not met the approval of God."
The next day, he said:
"As a Christian, I am not allowed to pick and choose what I consider relevant for today. [Churches who oppose same-sex marriage] have been branded as racists and haters, [but] our purpose is to present the Gospel so that people's lives are changed."
An editorial in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper said:
"Our state has a long record of being on the wrong side of history, and sadly it probably will do little to change that in the aftermath of a federal court decision that found Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional.
It doesn't have to be that way; Alabama could embrace, or at least acknowledge, the basic fairness the [federal] Constitution holds for all of us and move forward. If history is any indication, it won't, and the courts will once again be the agents of change.
As U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade noted in her decision, the state makes no real case for the ban. It doesn't offer any plausible legal justification for it.
There's a reason for that, of course. It's because there is no real case for it, no plausible legal justification, despite the indignant claims of some Alabama politicians. Remarkably, Gov. Robert Bentley cited the state constitution, as if it somehow trumped the U.S. Constitution. It doesn't, governor. ..." 4
It is not obvious to me why Rev. Morris connects discrimination based on race with discrimination based on sexual orientation. While some individuals and groups have been referred to as homophobic, bigots, or haters because of their opposition to marriage equality, I don't recall any past accusations that they were racist.
Rev. Morris indicated that same-sex couples would not be able to have their marriages solemnized in his church. Apparently he is referring to the absolute freedom of religionus guarantees in the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. He said:
"There's no way a government can impose something that would be against our guiding principles." 5
His belief is supported by events over the past centuries. Many clergy have refused to marry couples because they are interracial, or assessed as being too immature, or where one or both are from a different faith group, or -- in the case of the Roman Catholic Church -- where one is physically disabled. To our knowledge, no member of the clergy has ever been charged or prosecuted for refusing to perform a marriage. There is no reason to believe that that might happen in the future.
2015-JAN-26: Plaintiffs and their lawyers hold a press conference:
Plaintiff Cari Searcy told reporters:
"It has been an emotional roller coaster. We are ecstatic about the ruling and couldn't be happier."
The following is a video of a press conference that they held in Mobile, AL: