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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 36: Alabama: 2015-MAY:
U.S. District Court issues new ruling (Cont'd)
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy
Moore recommends impeachment of
some U.S. Supreme Court justices:

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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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marriage symbol 2015-MAY-21: U.S. District Judge Callie Grenada issued a new ruling (Continued):

As mentioned in the previous essay, many dozens of state and federal District Courts and three U.S. Circuit Courts of Appeals had agreed that individual states have the right to establish their own requirements for a couple to marry. However, the states' authority does not extend to banning couples from marrying because they are of the same sex. The courts cited the Due Process and/or the Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution. These two clauses require federal, state and local governments to treat individuals -- and thus couples -- equally, unless there is a very good reason why the government(s) should be allowed to discriminate against them.

However, by a 2 to 1 vote, a three-judge panel of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals disagreed. They ruled in the case Obergefell v. Hodges that four states do have the right to ban state same-sex marriage. They held that marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee were constitutional.

This produced an intra-circuit split among the rulings of the four federal Circuit Courts of Appeal. To resolve the split, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted an appeal of Obergefell during mid 2015-JAN. The High Court held its hearing on 2015-APR-28, and is expected to issue its ruling in mid-2015.

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On MAY-21, District Court Judge Callie Grenada in Alabama issued two orders:

  • In her first order, she ruled in the case Strawser v. Strange that:
    • All same-sex couples seeking a marriage license in Alabama are part of a "plaintiff class action."

    • All Alabama county probate judges who are "enforcing … Alabama’s laws barring the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples" are part of the a "defendant class."

That is, it is not just the individual plaintiffs and the one defendant in the Strawser case were covered by this new ruling. Her ruling includes all same-sex couples who want to get married and all Probate Judges.

She notes that:

"All Plaintiff Class members have been harmed by being denied the ability of obtaining a marriage license and their injury can be properly addressed by class-wide injunctive relief."

Thus, she has ruled that all same-sex couples have the right to obtain marriage licenses and to marry anywhere among the 67 counties of Alabama. Also, the State of Alabama must recognize the validity of marriages by same-sex couples which were solemnized out-of-state. She based her ruling on the usual 14th Amendment argument.

  • In her second order, she granted a preliminary injunction suspending Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. Finally, she invoked a stay of this order until the U.S. Supreme Court issues its ruling in Obergefell. That is expected during late June or early July. 1

A statement issued by the Alabama Attorney General's office welcomed the stay. It said:

We’ve said from the beginning that the U.S. Supreme Court would have the final say in this matter. Had Judge Granade heeded our request that she stay her order from the start we could have avoided a tremendous amount of chaos and confusion. The good news here is that Judge Granade has finally accepted our advice and issued a stay. 2

David Dinielli, is deputy legal director of the Southern Poverty Law Center, a group that monitors hate groups. He issued a statement, saying that the District Court ruling:

"... ends the chaos and confusion that Attorney General (Luther) Strange and Chief Justice (Roy) Moore have intentionally caused through their reckless rejection of federal constitutional principles." 3

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2015-MAY-22: Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore recommends impeachment of some U.S. Supreme Court justices:

Chief Justice Roy Moore was interviewed by Tony Perkins, president of the Family Research Center on the group's Washington Watch radio program. Moore referred to the ruling issued by U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade during the previous day. He said:

"She's trying to save face. She issued the same order earlier except it didn't apply earlier. ... She cannot issue an order to all probate judges in the state of Alabama. ... She knows she doesn't have the authority." 3

He also noted that U.S. Supreme Court Justices Ruth Bader Ginsburg and Elena Kagan have both married same-sex couples. They took place in states where such marriages are legal. He believes that by doing so, they have violated the ethical rules governing the behavior of High Court justices. Justice Ginsberg had married one same-sex couple during the previous week.

Tony Perkins responded:

"This is undermining the rule of law in our country and ushers in an age of chaos."

Perkins may not have been aware that the marriage solemnized by the Justices were performed in accordance with state and federal laws. He is correct in saying that chaos exists in the United States over same-sex married couples. A couple can tour the country, and have their status change when they cross state boundaries from married couple with full rights, to being civilly unionized with partial rights, to being considered roommates in a small number of states.

Chief Justice Moore said:

"Now she's commenting on a case which is before her and under the judicial ethics of federal judges she can't do that. If Congress is going to let these justices disobey the Constitution they're sworn to uphold... Congress has a check and a balance, and that's impeachment."

Again, Justice Moore may not be aware that the U.S. Constitution does not mention marriage. Also, the states in which the Justices solemnized the marriages do uphold the right to marry by both same-sex and opposite-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. Jacob Combs, "Alabama judge orders pro-marriage equality decision effective statewide, stays effect until SCOTUS ruling." Equality on Trial, 2015-MAY-21, at: http://www.equalityontrial.com/
  2. Nick Gass, "Same-sex couples can marry in Alabama, judge rules - but not yet," Politico, 2015-MAY-22, at: http://www.politico.com/
  3. Julie Bennett, "Roy Moore suggests impeachment of U.S. Supreme Court justices who perform same-sex marriages," Alabama Media Group, 2015-MAY-27, at: http://www.al.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-MAY
Latest update: 2015-JUN-03
Author: B.A. Robinson

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