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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 38: Alabama: 2015-JUN:
Legislation to eliminate marriage licenses (Cont).
The U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage
across the entire U.S.; Chief Justice Moore
resists. Confusion reigns for a while:

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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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We are using the term "gay marriage" here instead of the more
inclusive term "same-sex marriage" to improve access to this essay.
"Gay marriage" is not an accurate description for those same-sex
marriages in which one or more spouses has a bisexual orientation.

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marriage symbol 2015-JUN: A video by WHNT, Channel 19 concerning attempts to eliminate marriage licenses in Alabama:

The concept behind the bill would be that marriage licenses would be abolished. It would be replaced by a marriage contract between the two souses that would not require the approval of a probate judge. The signature of a notary public, clergy member, or attorney would be sufficient.

Shane Trejo of the Tenth Amendment Center said:

"The intent or motives behind this bill are a moot point. By removing the state from the equation, no one can force another to accept their marriage, nor can they force another to reject that person’s own beliefs regarding an institution older than government." 4

By making a marriage a personal decision by a couple, presumably a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that ordered states to allow gay marriage would not apply. Unfortunately, without the government being involved in the system, there might be problems with inheritance of estates, insurance policies, recognition of marriages by other states, adoption procedures, etc. Such a law would open up a real "can of worms."

    1

The bill was passed by the Alabama Senate by a vote of 22 to 3. However, it was rejected by the Judiciary Committee by a vote of 8 opposed to 3 in favor. 5

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gavelFriday, 2015-JUN-26: A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage across the country, in theory:

The battle for marriage equality in the United States began In 1991, when three same-sex couples launched the lawsuit "Baehr v. Lewin" in Hawaii. They sought a marriage license from the state, but were unsuccessful.

About twenty-four years later, almost a whole generation had passed. On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a ruling in the lawsuit Obergefell v. Hodges. This is a consolidated case that directly involved gay marriage in four cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, & Tennessee. The High Court's decision reversed that of the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Supreme Court ruled that the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution requires that all 50 U.S. states, five Territories and the District of Columbia must treat couples equally. Since they all allow qualified opposite-sex couples to marry, they must also allow qualified gay couples to marry. In addition, they must recognize legal gay marriages solemnized out-of-state. These are the same grounds on which the High Court ruled in 1967 that interracial marriages were legal across the country.

On the day before this ruling, same-sex couples could freely marry in 36 states, some locations within Missouri, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. Territory of Guam. They could also marry in a little more than 20 countries across the world including all of the large English-speaking countries except for Northern Ireland and Australia. (The exact number depends upon one's definition of "country.")

On the evening of the ruling, the majority of American adults -- the approximately 60% who support gay marriage -- were pleased. Many famous American structures and buildings from the White House to Niagara Falls and Disneyland were bathed in the colors of the LGBT rainbow flag, to mark the occasion. Most social, religious and political conservatives were displeased. In some states, there was confusion and/or resistance to the Supreme Court ruling, including Texas and in some other states.

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Opposition to the High Court ruling by Chief Justice Roy Moore:

Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court joined with the head of The Foundation for Moral Law, who happens to be his wife. They shared a posting on Facebook:

"Not only does the U.S. Supreme Court have no legal authority to redefine marriage, but also at least 2 members of the Court’s majority opinion were under a legal duty to recuse and refrain from voting. Their failure to recuse calls into question the validity of this decision."

Foundation President Kayla Moore said:

"This means we’ve got more work to do, but we are determined to do it. The Foundation is involved with a same-sex marriage case in the Middle District of Alabama, and that case will continue. There are issues in this case that the Supreme Court’s decision didn’t resolve." 2

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Webmaster's comment [bias alert]:

For what my opinion is worth, it is my belief that the U.S. Supreme Court did not redefine marriage. The Justices did not "legislate from the bench." They did not take over a function reserved for the Legislative branch of government. The majority of Justices on the High Court merely ruled that bans on same-sex marriages contained in amendments to some state constitutions and in some state marriage statutes violated the 14th Amendment of the federal Constitution. Thus the bans were unconstitutional and unenforceable.

This was exactly what the same Court did in 1967 in the case Loving v. Virginia when they declared that laws in some states that banned interracial marriage were unconstitutional. Declaring whether laws are constitutional or not is one of the main tasks of the U.S. Supreme Court. There is no other body that can make such decisions for the entire United States.

Chief Justice Moore's comment about two Justices recusing themselves is based on the actions of two High Court Justices who each recently officiated at the marriages of a same-sex couple. In each case, one of the spouses is a friend or employee of the Justice. These marriages were solemnized in locations where same-sex marriages are readily available and have been legal for years. Thus the Justices would have had no more duty to recuse themselves as would other Justices have had if they married opposite-sex couples.

The Obergefell case, on which these two Justices concurred with the majority opinion written by Justice Kennedy, did not deal with any of locations where these two gay marriages were solemnized. They dealt only with the 13 states and four territories where same-sex marriages had still been banned.

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2015-JUN-29: The Alabama Supreme Court issued an order concerning the U.S. Supreme Court's Obergefell case:

The state Supreme Court issued an order. It said that the parties in the federal "Obergefell case" have 25 days in which to file a petition to ask the U.S. Supreme Court to rehear the case. The Supreme Court of Alabama invited the Alabama Policy Institute, the Alabama Citizens Action program and Probate Judge John Enslen to:

"... submit any motions of briefs addressing the effect of the Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell on this Court's existing order..." 3

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    This topic continues in the next essay which describes
    how the confusion in Alabama seems to be dissipating.

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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. David Kumbroch, "Bill scrapping marriage licenses hits Alabama House after passing Senate," WHNT-19. 2015-JUN-01, at: http://whnt.com/
  2. Casey Quinlan, "Even After Supreme Court Ruling, These States Are Still Resisting Same-Sex Marriage," Think Progress, 2015-JUN-27, at:http://thinkprogress.org/
  3. "In the Supreme court of Alabama ...," 2015-JUN-29, Scribd, at: http://www.scribd.com/
  4. Barry Donegan, "Alabama Senate Approves Bill to Abolish Marriage Licensing,"Truth in Media, 2015-MAY-25, at: http://truthinmedia.com/
  5. Barry Donegan, "Alabama House Rejects Bill to Abolish Marriage Licensing,"Truth in Media, 2015-JUN-29, at:http://truthinmedia.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-JUL-01
Latest update: 2015-JUL-01
Author: B.A. Robinson

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