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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 31: Alabama: 2015-MAR-04 to 09: Marriage
licenses are now unavailable to same-sex couples.
Chief Justice Roy Moore delivers speech.
New class action motion filed in District Court.

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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-MAR-04: No counties appear to be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

Before the ruling by the Alabama Supreme Court, about 48 of the state's 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. One day after the Court's ruling, the Human Rights Campaign Alabama -- a pro-equality group -- was unable to find any.

Sarah Warbelow, HRC Legal Director, said:

"Because of the Alabama Supreme Court's willingness to ignore their oath of office, all Alabama's counties appear to be in conflict with the intent of a federal court order. This is only a temporary setback on the road to equality, but the message it sends to LGBT Alabamians is despicable." 1

This action shows how important it is for any same-sex couple who wants to marry to be prepared in advance by make all possible arrangements. When marriage equality is attained in a state, the window of opportunity for same-sex couples to marry may be only open for days or even hours.

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2015-MAR-06: Chief Justice Roy Moore delivers speech to the Faith and Family Summit:

The Faith and Family Summit is sponsored by the Family Research Council (FRC). The FRC is a conservative Christian para-church organization, which has been designated by the Southern Poverty Law Center as an anti-gay hate group. 2 Moore said that if the U.S. Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional, then the powers of the federal government will be enormously increased. He predicted that if the high court redefines marriage:

"... a word that existed for thousands of years before this country came into existence, and if we go there, then we’ve ruined the definition of the family and we’ll go to parent-and-child [marriage] next."

He predicted that the federal government is:

"... going to be taking your children simply by the same logic they’re following [now].

Brian Tashman, writing for Right Wing Watch said that:

"Moore told FRC President Tony Perkins that:

" 'Christians need to stand up and do their duty to God as their duty to their country' by fighting gay rights. He declared that the issue of marriage rights is much more important than foreign affairs, immigration, economics or the national debt: 'This is the most critical issue that faces this country. And I want to disagree a little bit with what I’ve heard about asking our presidential candidates [about marriage rights]. We should not have to ask them, Tony. If they haven’t come up and said it, they should not even be considered'."

Many Republican leaders have been reluctant to talk about marriage equality recently. The majority of younger members of the party favor marriage equality even as the older member continue their opposition. Meanwhile the percentage support among the general public for same-sex marriage continues to climb. Taking a conservtive stance on marriage equality is clearly not a winning strategy for the Republican Party. 3

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2015-MAR-07: President Obama links same-sex marriage with 1960's civil rights movement:

This was he 50th anniversary of the "Bloody Sunday" march in Selma, AL. Police attacked peaceful, unarmed black protestors who were demnstrating for the right to vote. TV reports of the attack galvanized American public opinion and led to the passage of the Voting Rights Act of 1965.

President Obama drew parallels between the civil rights movement of the mid 20th century with the struggle for equality by the LGBT community today. He said:

"Ask your gay friend if it’s easier to be out and proud in America now than it was 30 years ago." 4

Rev. William Owens of the Coalition of African American Pastors (CAAP) responded:

"I marched with many people back in those days and I have reached out to some of my friends who marched with me, and all of them are shocked. They never thought they would see this day that gay rights would be equated with civil rights. Not one agreed with this comparison. ... President Obama is a disgrace to the black community. He is rewriting history. We didn’t suffer and die for gay marriage. We marched for opportunity, equality, justice, freedom from oppression. We are the true heirs of the civil rights movement. We have a new movement to reclaim the ‘real’ civil rights movement. ..."

"The LGBT community hijacked our movement, a movement they know nothing about. President Obama is delusional to compare our struggle with the struggle for marriage equality. Gays have not had fire hoses or dogs unleashed at them. They have not been hung from trees or denied basic human rights. ..."

"President Obama didn’t march. He has benefited from those of us who did march, but for President Obama to say we marched so that gays would have the right to marry today, is a disgrace and a lie. 5

The above two quotes came from an article in Briebart, which received 1.624 comments from readers within 17 hours.

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2015-MAR-09: New motion in federal District Court filed to circumvent the Supreme Court of Alabama's ruling: 6

District Court Judge Callie Granade's original order bound Attorney General Luther Strange (R):

"... 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 that prohibit same-sex marriage."

However, the probate judges who issue marriage licenses in Alabama are not "officers, agents, servants [or] employees" of the Attorney General and were, strictly speaking, not bound by the District Court order, except for Judge Davis who was personally mentioned in her decision.

Four civil rights groups -- The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama; the Southern Poverty Law Center; the National Center for Lesbian Rights, and Americans United for Separation of Church and State filed a new class action motion before the same judge, Ginny Granade. 7 It is called Strawser and Humphrey v. Strange.

It was perhaps symbolic that this action occurred on the 50th anniversary of the march at Selma, Alabama. That march, which mobilized the conscience of the nation, inspired the Voting Rights Act which gave African Americans access to the voting booth. If the motion is granted, it will change two factors:

  • It would expand the list of defendants to include:

    "... all Alabama county probate judges who are enforcing or in the future may enforce Alabama’s laws barring the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and refusing to recognize their marriages.

  • It would expand the list of plaintiffs from the few couples listed in the original lawsuit to:

    "... all persons in Alabama who wish to obtain a marriage license in order to marry a person of the same sex." 6

If this motion is granted, then it would give District Judge Granade jurisdiction over all 67 probate judges in Alabama. It would also automatically give plaintiff status to every qualified same-sex couple who wants to be married in the state. At this point, all probate judges would be required to issue marriage licenses to all qualified same-sex couples.

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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. Hubert Tate, "HRC Unable to Confirm Any Counties Issuing Marriage Licenses to Same-Sex Couples," Human Rights Campaign, 2015-MAR-04, at:
  2. David Demirbilek, "Southern Poverty Law Center repeats 'hate group' claim about Family Research Council," Daily Caller, 2012-SEP-13, at:
  3. Alice Ollstein, "Same-Sex Couples In Alabama React To Supreme Court Ruling Overturning Marriage Equality," Think Progress, 2015-MAR-05, at:
  4. Scottie Thomaston, "Alabama tries to stall same-sex marriage ruling again." Equality on Trial, 2015=MAR-10, at:
  5. "Black pastors coalition leader: 'Obama's comparison of civl rights and gay marriage struggles a discrace to the black community," Breibart, 2015-MAR-10, at:
  6. Shannon P. Minter, "Civil Action No. 14-0424-CG-C," National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed 2015-MAR-06, at:
  7. Brian Lyman, "Groups seek statewide order on gay marriage in Ala.," USA Today, 2015-MAR-06, at:

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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-MAR-09
Latest update: 2015-MAR-12
Author: B.A. Robinson

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