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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 4:
Alabama: Plaintiffs hold press conference (Cont'd).
State appeals case to 11th Circuit Court.
State Rep. Patricia Todd plays hard ball.
Second couple permitted to marry.
Chief Justice Moore of the AL Supreme Court
believes District Court ruling invalid. Confusion.

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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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wedding rings2015-JAN-26: Plaintiffs and their lawyers hold a press conference (Cont'd):

Others at the press conference in Mobile, AL were:

  • Rev. Ellen Sims, minister at the Open Table United Church of Christ in Mobile who said:

    "One of the things that makes me so passionate about this is the fact that I grieve the role that churches have played in stigmatizing and really doing spiritual violence unwittingly to gay and lesbian and transgender folks. Part of what I feel called to do is to be a different voice of God's love." 1

  • Dustin Chalker, an Atheist who represented the Secular Student Alliance at the University of South Alabama said:

    "Most of the opposition to gay rights and LGBT rights in general come from a religious standpoint. Since we're not religious, we don't have any objections [to same-sex marriages]."

Also on Monday, other clergy responded:

  • Rev. Jeff Spiller, senior pastor of Christ United Methodist Church in Mobile, said:

    "While I disagree with Judge Granade's ruling (because) we believe it further erodes the Biblical and traditional understanding of marriage in our society, it does not change the United Methodist Church's belief that Christian marriage is a sacred union between a man and a woman."

  • Rev. Sandy O'Steen is pastor of Cornerstone Metropolitan Community Church in Mobile. This is a LGBT-positive group. She said:

    "The river of justice that is flowing through America has finally reached Alabama. We've been celebrating the sacred sacrament of holy unions for many years, but to have it legal now ... it's a human rights issue.

    "A church in Florida put a sign in the yard: 'We don't marry homosexuals. I'm going to put a big sign: 'We do marry homosexuals.'"

  • Thomas J. Rodi, the Roman Catholic Archbishop of Mobile said:

    "No court decision can change the truth. The truth is marriage is between a man and a woman. People can choose to love and live with whomever they wish, but that does not make it a marriage."

    "I hope that our country will respect religious liberty and not seek to force we who believe in marriage to be legally coerced to act against our beliefs. At the same time, marriage is mentioned in thousands of laws. The legalization of same-sex marriage has profound consequences in many other laws and could affect Church ministries."

  • Rev. James H. Christian, pastor of Big Zion African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church in Mobile said:

    "The Church embraces the ideal that all persons are beneficiaries of the grace of God; there remains a distinction between the rights of the state and a rite of the church. We maintain our Biblical understanding that marriage is between a man and a woman. Our churches are precluded from performing such same-sex rituals as a matter of our faith statement.

    "We do not reject anyone from joining our church. Our doors are always open to everyone no matter what shape, form or fashion they find themselves in."

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2015-JAN-26: Attorney General appeals the District Court ruling to 11th Circuit:

Attorney General Luther Strange gave:

"... notice of his appeal, to the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals, of the District Court’s Memorandum Opinion and Order (doc. 53) and Judgment (doc. 54), entered January 23, 2015."

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thumb down imageState Representative Patricia Todd plays hard ball by threatening to expose adulterous affairs by fellow legislators:

Rep. Patricia Todd (D) is the first and only openly LGBT legislator in Alabama. She is sensitive to attacks on the LGBT community in Alabama.

State House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R) referred to the District Court's ruling as "outrageous." He issued a statement saying that the Legislature:

"... will continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live."

A main feature of his "Christian conservative values" is that marriages are to be once more confined to one woman and one man.

Following Hubbard's and other criticisms of marriage equality in Alabama, Todd threatened to expose some fellow legislators. She said:

"I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about 'family values' when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have. I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet OUT. ... One thing I’m pretty consistent on is, I do not like hypocrites. If you can explain your position and you hold yourself to the same standard you want to hold me to, then fine. But you cannot go out there and smear my community by condemning us and somehow making us feel less than, and expect me to be quiet" 2

The article in Raw Story received 650 postings from readers! Almost all were strongly in favor of Rep. Todd's threat. A posting by "Katkelly57" is typical:

"Patricia, you go girl!

Go to the highest church steeple with a bullhorn and tell all! That'll steam their lily white a--es!" 2

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thumb up image2015-JAN-26: District Court issues second same-sex marriage ruling:

This time, two men are involved.

James Strawser and John Humphrey had filed a lawsuit in U.S. District Court during 2014-SEP seeking permission to marry in Alabama. On JAN-26, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade issued another ruling essentially identical to the one she issued on JAN-23. As with the earlier ruling, she imposed a stay until FEB-09 so that the state can file an appeal with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and perhaps obtain a longer stay from the higher court.

Judge Granade wrote in her ruling:

"Although the Plaintiffs in this case seek to marry in Alabama, rather than have their marriage in another state recognized, the court adopts the reasoning expressed in the Searcy case and finds that Alabama's laws violate the Plaintiffs' rights for the same reasons."

Plaintiff John Humphrey said:

"I am just ecstatically pleased. We didn't realize it would be so soon and did not even think she would consider it. This is the Bible Belt for Christ sake."

The Attorney General immediately promised to appeal this case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. 3

During the first three days after the article was published, it received 1,226 comments from readers!

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thumb down image2015-JAN-27: Roy S. Moore, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court of Alabama criticized the District Court's marriage ruling:

Chief Justice Moore is perhaps best known for having placed a monument containing the Bible's Ten Commandments in the rotunda of the State Judicial Building, in Montgomery, AL. That is where the state Supreme Court is located. He labored mightily to prevent its removal, but was ultimately unsuccessful, and was removed from office because he had ignored a federal court order. 4 He was re-elected as Chief Justice in 2012.

On JAN-17, he wrote a letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley claiming that, in his opinion:

  1. Federal courts have no jurisdiction over Alabama's Sanctity of Marriage Amendment to its state Constitution.

  2. The federal constitution does not grant authority to the federal government to define who is eligible to marry.

  3. The voters of Alabama have modified the state Constitution to restrict marriage within the state to the union of two persons of opposite sexes.

  4. The state Constitution also declares that legal out-of-state marriages by same-sex couples have "no legal force or effect" in Alabama.

  5. The laws of Alabama have always conformed to the biblical passage of Mark 10:6-9 which records Jesus as saying:

    "... from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. For this cause shall a man leave his father and mother, and cleave to his wife; And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh.  What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder." (King James Version, translated from the original Greek). 5

Webmaster's interpretation of Chief Justice Moore's criticism (bias alert):

His first claim is the familiar "states' right" argument that had previously been used to oppress racial minorities and to unsuccessfully try to preserve racial segregation in southern schools. It is not a widely held belief today, except in the deep South. In fact, over 40 state and federal courts have ruled since mid 2013 that state constitutional bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and void.

His second claim is correct. The federal Constitution does not mention marriage. Thus, each state has the responsibility to define marriage independently. However, he did not mention the clear and unambiguous requirement in the federal Constitution that however a state defines marriage, that definition must not conflict with the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. A succession of over 40 state and federal courts have rule since mid 2013 that it is unconstitutional for a state to ban marriages by same-sex couples.

His third and fourth claim are a correct statements of fact about the how the state Constitution was amended and what it states. However, these restrictions have been declared unconstitutional and void by the District Court. Similar bans in the Constitutions of other states have also been declared unconstitutional and void.

His fifth claim seems to imply that Jesus' statement restricts marriage to opposite-sex couples. Some have interpreted this passage in the Gospel of Mark differently to refer to marriage laws as they then existed in Israel. Also, some men and some women -- then and now -- choose to remain single, and to never marry. Some men and women -- then and now -- are sexually attracted only to members of the same-sex and wish to form same-sex relationships. Jesus appears to be silent on both of these groups. Chief Justice Moore seems to imply that the state of Alabama must follow conservative interpretations of Bible passages. However, the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that:

"Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion ..."

This has been interpreted by federal courts to imply that a wall of separation must exist between church and state.

According to the Encyclopaedia Britannica:

"The First Amendment, like the rest of the Bill of Rights, originally restricted only what the federal government may do and did not bind the states. ... In 1868, however, the Fourteenth Amendment was added to the U.S. Constitution, and it prohibited states from denying people “liberty” without “due process.” Since then, the U.S. Supreme Court has gradually interpreted this to apply most of the Bill of Rights to state governments. In particular, from the 1920s to the ’40s the Supreme Court applied all the clauses of the First Amendment to the states." 6

Thus, states may not give preferential treatment to the beliefs of some Christians and integrate their beliefs into state law.

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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. "Same-sex marriage in Alabama: What religious leaders said," Alabama Media Group, 2015-JAN-26, at: http://www.al.com/
  2. Arturo Garcia, "Gay Alabama lawmaker: I’ll ‘out’ adulterous officials fighting same-sex marriage," Raw Story, 2015-JAN-26, at: http://www.rawstory.com/
  3. Brendan Kirby, "Second Alabama gay couple wins same-sex marriage challenge," Alabama Media Group, 2015-JAN-27, at: http://www.al.com/
  4. Miranda Leitsinger, "Alabama's Top Judge: Gay Marriage Rulings Are Federal 'Tyranny'," NBC News, 2015-JAN-27, at: http://www.nbcnews.com/
  5. Chief Justice Roy S. Moore, Letter to Governor Robert Bently, AL.com, 2015-JAN-27, at: at: http://media.al.com/
  6. Eugene Volokh, "First Amendment," Encyclopaedia Britannica, at: http://www.britannica.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-JAN-26
Latest update: 2015-JUL-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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