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

Part 32: Alabama: 2015-MAR-09 & 10:
New class action filed in District Court (Cont'd).
Attorney General asks for delay.
AL Supreme Court issues order to Probate Judge.

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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-09: New motion in federal District Court filed to circumvent the Supreme Court of Alabama's ruling (Cont'd): 1

Ayesha N Khan, the Legal Director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, wrote:

"If Alabama officials thought we were going to sit back and allow them to deny same-sex couples their constitutional right to marry, they thought wrong. We are going to fight for these couples." 2

Susan Watson, the Executive Director of American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama wrote,

"Alabama needs to be on the right side of history. Marriage equality is coming to all 50 states. We will not give up the fight until marriage equality exists for all." 2

David Dinelli, the Deputy Legal Director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, said:

"Fair-minded people of Alabama don’t want obstruction. They want progress. Couples in all 67 counties of this state should have the freedom to marry. The United States Constitution protects all of us, including those in Alabama, no matter the opinion of the Alabama Supreme Court. Marriage equality has taken hold in Alabama. We promise you that we are not going back and we are not leaving anyone behind." 2

Shannon Minter, the legal director of National Center for Lesbian Rights, said:

"Alabama couples deserve the security and protection that marriage provides. We hope that the court will act quickly to provide certainty to couples throughout the state and establish once and for all that Alabama’s same-sex couples have the freedom to marry." 2

Ian Millhiser, writing for Think Progress, concluded:

"It is likely ... that the battle between supporters of equality and gay rights opponents in Alabama has reached its end game. Procedural technicalities may have succeeded in limiting the scope of Judge Granade’s orders up to this point, but it is very likely that she will soon have authority to end the state’s defiance once and for all." 3

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2015-MAR-09: Attorney General asks District Court to block same-sex marriages until mid-2015:

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a motion with U.S. District Judge Callie Granade, asking her to not issue any more rulings affecting same-sex marriage in Alabama until late June or early July when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue ruling in the consolidated case involving same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. This ruling is expected to affect same-sex marriage in the District of Columbia and all of the 50 U.S. states. He expressed the concern that if she were to accept the petition filed by several LGBT civil rights groups to renew the issuing of marriage licences for same-sex couples that this would cause more chaos and aggravated tension between the courts. 4 He stated:

"When this court enjoined Attorney General Strange from enforcing Alabama's marriage laws to the extent those laws prohibited ‘same-sex marriage,' Attorney General Strange immediately moved for a stay. ... Among other grounds, Attorney General Strange argued that a fundamental redefinition of marriage in Alabama without the benefit of full appellate review would lead to chaos, confusion, and additional litigation that could be avoided if the Court's orders were simply stayed a few months until the United States Supreme Court resolved the issue.

Since then, the number and rate of developments has been dizzying as officials came to different conclusions about their legal obligations and as parties tried to intervene in the initial cases and bring other officials under the Court's injunction.

The Court should not further undermine the relationship between the state and federal courts by granting Plaintiffs leave to drastically change the nature of this case at this late date. Granting the relief the Plaintiffs seek will only add to all the chaos and confusion in Alabama, and will only increase the tension between the state and federal courts.

The only wise and judicious course of action is to deny the motion to amend and wait until June when the United States Supreme Court will resolve the constitutionality of same sex marriage in a way that will be binding on all federal judges and all state officials." 5

Attorney General Strange also expressed his opinion that the proposed "plaintiff class" was poorly defied. He said:

"A basic tenet of class litigation is that one should be able to identify who is, and who is not, a member of the class. But a class of '[a]ll persons in Alabama who wish to obtain a marriage license in order to marry a person of the same sex' does not meet this test." 6

He may have a point. If one were to gather together a group of, say, 1,000 Alabama adults, one could assume that about 100 of them are either lesbian, gay or bisexual. Of the 100, some would be in a serious relationship and would like to marry. But it would not be obvious who are in the latter subgroup. Of course, one could always ask.

"aakalan2" responded to a report in Equality on Trial 7 with the following comment:

"... [District Judge] Granade will shut them down, but good. She has the power to make a class out of the plaintiffs and a class out of all Probate judges in the state. Once she does that (and there's no one to stop her), she can hold every Probate judge in the state in contempt, fine them, threaten to arrest them. Let's see how crazy the Alabama Supreme Court really is when the U. S. Marshals show up to cart away the judges in handcuffs.

Think it won't happen? Just remember George Wallace, at the point of a gun, ordered off the schoolhouse steps. It seems that brute force is the only thing Alabama understands. They certainly don't understand (or care to understand) the Constitution."

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2015-MAR-10: Alabama Supreme Court issued a direct order to Probate Judge Don Davis, for the County of Mobile, AL:

Back in MAR-03, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an opinion to Probate Judge Don Davis of Moblie County, AL. He was ordered:

"... to advise this court ... no later than ... March 5, 2015, as to whether he is bound by any existing federal court order regarding the issuance of any marriage licenses other than the four marriage licenses he was ordered to issue in Strawser v, Strange. ..." 8

He replied on MAR-05 asking for an 11-day extension of time until MAR-16 to comply with the order.

On MAR-09, he replied that he should not be included in the Court order because that would require him to violate the district court order that he had received in January. The Alabama Supreme Court denied his request, finding it "to be without merit." 8

Late on Tuesday MAR-10, Probate Judge Don Davis of Moblie County, AL, was faced with two absolutely unambiguous court orders that are totally contradictory:

  • On JAN-23, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade issued a ruling in the same-sex marriage case. It clearly stated that the Alabama bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional. It included a section directed to him personally. It specifically ordered him to start issuing marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples, effective FEB-09.

  • On MAR-10, he received an equally clear, personal order from the Justices of the Alabama Supreme Court. It ordered him to stop issuing marriage licenses to qualified same-sex couples. 8

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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. Shannon P. Minter, "Civil Action No. 14-0424-CG-C," National Center for Lesbian Rights, filed 2015-MAR-06, at: http://documents.buzzfeed.com/
  2. Brandon Moseley, "Strange Opposes Motion To Order Same-Sex Marriage Across Alabama," Alabama Political Reporter, 2015-MAR-09, at: http://www.alreporter.com/
  3. Ian Millhiser, "How Gay Rights Attorneys Will Defeat Chief Justice Roy Moore In Alabama," Think Progress, 2015-MAR-09, at: http://thinkprogress.org/
  4. "Alabama asking for delay in same-sex marriage rulings," CBS News. 2015-MAR-09, at: http://www.cbsnews.com/
  5. "Alabama AG opposes class action status of same-sex marriage lawsuit," WSFA-TV, 2015-MAR-09, at: http://www.wsfa.com/
  6. Casey Toner, "Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange opposes new federal order in same-sex marriage case," Alabama Media Group, 2015-MAR-09. at: http://www.al.com/
  7. Scottie Thomaston, "Alabama tries to stall same-sex marriage ruling again." Equality on Trial, 2015=MAR-10, at: http://www.equalityontrial.com/
  8. "1140460 ORDER Enjoining Davis," Scribd, 2015-MAR-10, at: https://www.scribd.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-MAR-09
Latest update: 2015-MAR-20
Author: B.A. Robinson

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