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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 27: Alabama: 2015-FEB/MAR:
Governor Bentley comes under fire (Cont'd).
Alabama Supreme Court orders probate
judges to stop issuing SSM marriage licenses.

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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.
PC(USA) refers to the Presbyterian Church (USA).

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This topic is continued from the previous essay.

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LGBT symbol 2015-FEB-25: Governor Bentley comes under fire (Cont'd).

Rev. Gil McKee, is the pastor of First Baptist Church of Tuscaloosa, which is affiliated with the Southern Baptist Convention -- a fundamentalist Christian denomination. It is the church where Governor Bentley attends services. The Alabama Media Group reported that Pastor McKee suggested to governor Bentley that he should have the Probate Judges follow the state Constitution, even if it violate the ruling of the federal District Court. Rev. Mckee said:

"Governor, I don't care if all 49 states go for this same-sex marriage business, let's be different in the state of Alabama. Let's do what we know is the right thing to do. If you'll just step up and lead out in this thing, if you'll give the word to our chief justice to call all our probate judges ... and say,

'Don't you issue one single license until the federal government does their thing and until we decide whether we're going to follow that or not. Don't issue one of them.'

I'm telling you the people of this state would rally behind that. There's nothing gray about this issue--not if you're going to go with what God says, and God has made it clear that marriage is between one man and one woman, period, and that settles it. The issue is, are we going to go with God, or are we going to go with somebody else?" 5

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Webmaster's comment (Bias alert):

Some years ago, this web site conducted a pilot study involving people using prayer to assess the will of God. We chose the topic of same-sex marriage. Results indicated that prayer doesn't work.

Rev. McKee is clearly in error when he says that God wants marriage to be "between one man and one woman." There are many references in the Bible to polygynous marriages between one man and multiple women. Only Solomon was criticized for his decision to have multiple wives. (He had 700 wives of royal birth along with 300 concubines.) However, he was not criticized for their number, but rather because they followed many different Pagan religions. Other men with multiple wives mentioned in the Bible were:

  • Lamech, in Genesis 4:19. He was the first known polygynist in the Bible. He had two wives.
  • Esau with 3 wives;
  • Jacob: 2;
  • Ashur: 2;
  • Gideon: many;
  • Elkanah: 2;
  • David: many;
  • Rehaboam: 3;
  • Abijah: 14.
  • Jehoram, Joash, Ahab, Jeholachin and Belshazzar also had multiple wives, but their exact number is not reported in the Bible.

From the historical record, it is known that Herod the Great (73 to 4 BCE) had nine wives.

The Bible is silent on same-sex marriage. Nobody in the Bible discussed same-sex marriage, let alone condemned it. There are about seven references to same-gender sexual behavior by adults in the Bible. However, they are clearly ambiguous because some sincere, thoughtful, intelligent, and knowledgeable Christian theologians have interpreted them as condemning all such behavior while others who are equally qualified have interpreted the same passages as condemning everything from inter-species rape, to sex with prostitutes in Pagan temples and to men sexually molesting boys.

Pastor McKee preached from the pulpit:

"Somebody said, 'What's the right thing?' The right thing is you stay with God's definition of marriage, and if they drag us to court, if they drag us to jail, if they drag us to D.C., come on and drag us. Because I can tell you as Peter and John said, 'I will obey God rather than men'." 4

Public opinion to Pastor McKee's opinion, at least among the readers of the Alabama Media Group, was negative. The first few comments added by readers of the article about Rev. McKee were:

  • " posted: "What an under-educated state, full of simple thinkers. It really is a shame. Please take it upon yourself to get educated. Go to the library, read books and start to form your own opinion. If you can ONLY quote the Bible as your source of reasoning, you are uneducated! It gets embarrassing after a while. Shame on you!
    • To which:
      • "Eliza" responded: "It makes rational discourse difficult."
      • "Thegirlsdad" responded: "These people do not understand most of the scripture quoted [against same-sex marriage] is taken out of context and used for a complete different meaning." 

  • Dada Chilton posted: "Mr. McKee talks as if someone is forcing him to do something. Pagans and Atheists and all sorts of people get married without it forcing him to disobey his God. More than half of people get divorced (including Christians) and it doesn't make him disobey his God. He's free to believe and preach whatever he wants. He can marry whoever he wants. Not all of Alabama belongs to McKee's church. He's not the pastor of everyone. The entire state of Alabama shouldn't be under his pastoral direction, be punished by his personal desire to disobey federal law, or be forced to live under state laws based on this pastor's personal interpretation of the Bible.
     
  • "Jamal s." posted: "It amazes me why same sex marriage supporters can't understand why some people find it hard to accept gay marriages. Many Conservatives have not come to grips with gay relationships. Liberals will have to admit that it's a drastic change from the norm."
    • To which
      • "Eliza" responded: "The concept of SSM has been discussed for over a decade and a half.  The Windsor decision was almost two years ago.  It was clear then that all states would eventually have to allow SSM. Had leaders in the fundamentalist churches explained the difference between civil marriage and religious marriage to their congregations, this change would have not have been as difficult. Instead they demonized gays and prophesied the end of the world." 4

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2015-MAR-03: Alabama Supreme Court issues order to prohibt issuing of marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

As discussed elsewhere on this web site, two conservative Christian non-profit groups had petitioned the Alabama Supreme Court to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state. These are the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program. There are eight associated Justices and one Chief Justice -- Roy Moore -- on the Court.

With a 7 to 1 vote, and with Chief Justice Moore abstaining, the court issued a ruling on MAR-03. It stated:

"As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for 'marriage' between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty." 6

The opinion emphasized that although the Alabama Supreme Court is required to obey a decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, it is not obligated to follow the ruling of a District Court judge. Presumably, they are implying that Alabama is not required to obey a decision of the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals either.

The court gave the probate judges five days to respond to the ruling.

The Family Research Council is a leading conservative Christian para-church organization, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. 7 Its president, Tony Perkins, said:

"I applaud the Alabama Justices in their wise decision respecting the freedom of Alabama’s voters to uphold natural marriage. In a refreshing change, Alabama’s Supreme Court is using the law to determine their actions -- not a politically motivated opinion of a lower court federal judge.

I again urge caution for any court, state or federal, whether a state Supreme Court or the U.S. Supreme Court, that wants to redefine marriage. Recent polling shows sixty-one percent of Americans oppose the US Supreme Court forcing marriage redefinition on all fifty states. If Americans were truly on board with this effort to redefine marriage, governors, state attorneys general, and other elected officials wouldn't bother fighting it. Instead, the Alabama Supreme Court reflects where the American people really are on the issue -– and it is respecting the freedom of the voters to uphold natural marriage.

The poll to which Perkins refers 8 shows that most American adults prefer that a redefinition of marriage to include same-sex couples be decided at the state level, and not by the U.S. Supreme Court, as the high court did in the 1967 case "Loving v. Virginia" for interracial marriage.

The term "natural marriage" is often used by religious and social conservatives to refer to a union of one woman and one man. It is certainly "natural" to the vast majority of American adults who have a heterosexual orientation. However, "natural marriage" is not a universally applicable term. A union by two women is natural to lesbians and a union of two men is natural to gays.

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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. Daily KOS Group, "You Won't Believe Roy Moore's Answer As To Why He's Not Like George Wallace," 2015-FEB-24, at: http://www.dailykos.com/
  2. "Supremacy Clause," Wikipedia, as on 2015-FEB-22, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  3. "Gov. Robert Bentley won't take action against probate judges issuing same-sex marriage licenses," Alabama Media Group, at: 2015-FEB-06, at: http://www.al.com/
  4. Leada Gore, "Gov. Bentley's pastor wants him to fight feds on same-sex marriage, even if they 'drag us to jail'," Alabama Media Group, at: 2015-FEB-26, at: http://www.al.com/
  5. David Tulis, "Do we need more leadership of Gov. Bentley, Supt. Daniels type? Hardly," Nooganomics, 2015-FEB-25, at: http://nooganomics.com/
  6. "FRC Praises Alabama Supreme Court Order Respecting the Freedom of Voters to Uphold Marriage," Family Research Council," 2015-MAR-04, at: http://www.frc.org/
  7. David Demirbilek, "Southern Poverty Law Center repeats 'hate group' claim about Family Research Council," Daily Caller, 2012-SEP-13, at: http://dailycaller.com/
  8. "Polling Memorandum," WPA Opinion Research, 2015-FEB-20, at: http://downloads.frc.org/
  9. Hubert Tate, "Activists Fast-Tracking Anti-LGBT Bill in Alabama," Human Rights Campaign, 2015-MAR-03, at: http://www.hrc.org/
  10. Hubert Tate, "HRC Unable to Confirm Any Counties Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples," Human Rights Campaign, 2015-MAR-04, at: http://www.hrc.org/

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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-27
Latest update: 2015-MAR-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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