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Recognition of gay marriage (a.k.a.
same-sex marriage or SSM) and LGBT equality

Part 42: Alabama: 2016-MAR to SEPT:

Same-sex couples are able to marry
in all of Alabama, with some effort.
Chief Justice Moore is tried and
suspended from office.

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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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gavel2016-MAR-08: What is the impact of the Alabama Supreme Court decision on marriage in Alabama?

Essentially none. Earlier in 2016, there were about 11 counties out of the 67 counties in the state where couples could not obtain marriage licenses. This number was expected to change somewhat as a result of the Alabama Supreme Court's Petition for Mandamus ruling. In those states, opposite-sex and same-sex couples are being inconvenienced to the same degree:

  • In the majority of counties that are issuing licenses, the couple need only travel to their local courthouse to obtain a license.

  • In the relatively few counties that are not issuing licenses, the couple would have to travel to an adjacent county and get one there. That is typically perhaps a distance on the order of 60 miles return. According to the web site:

    "A marriage license may be obtained from any county in the State of Alabama (regardless of where you live or where you are getting married), and may be used to be married in any county within Alabama." 1

This may be embarrassing to the couples; it might make them feel like second class citizens. But in a person's life it is not an overwhelming hurdle to overcome.

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Webmaster's comment: [bias alert]:

This radical difference in interpretation of the Alabama Supreme Court's ruling is still another demonstration that the public should obtain their news from a variety of sources, both conservative and liberal. As in the above example, It is quite common for sources to interpret events very differently. If more people would monitor a range of news sources then the accuracy and objectivity of reporting would probably improve considerably.

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2016-JUN-22: One year after gay marriages were legalized, some counties in Alabama still defied the U.S. Supreme Court:

Chris Johnson, writing for the Washington Blade, said:

"Alabama is the state where obstruction to same-sex marriage is the most pervasive. According to the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, 12 of the state’s 67 counties are still not granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Of these 12, 11 counties — Choctaw, Washington, Marengo, Clarke, Covington, Geneva, Pike, Bibb, Autauga, Elmore and Cleburne — are enforcing a “no licenses” policy to all couples, gay or straight, in the aftermath of the decision. Another county, Coosa, is issuing licenses, but says it’s unable to grant them to same-sex couples because of “technical difficulties.”

Brock Boone, staff attorney for the ACLU of Alabama, said she was told by the [Coosa] clerk these technical difficulties started around the time of 'this same-sex stuff'." 2

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2016-SEP-28: Chief Justice Roy S. Moore went on on trial:

This is the second time that Moore has experienced serious problems because he applied his conservative Christian beliefs to his Court duties. Thirteen years previously, Justice Moore ignored a federal court order to remove a 5,289 pound monument of the Ten Commandments that he had installed in the rotunda of the Alabama Supreme Court building in Montgomery AL.

10 Commandments

Eventually he faced an ethics trial before the state's Judicial Inquiry Commission, and was removed from office. However, he ran for the Chief Justice post in a subsequent election, and was reelected to the post.

History almost repeated itself in 2016 over gay marriages:

  • On 2015-JUN-26, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling in the case Obergefell v. Hodges. that legalized gay marriage throughout the U.S.

  • On 2016-JAN-06, Chief Justice Moore had issued a four page administrative order to each of the state's probate judges. It instructed them to refuse applications by same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses because he felt that it would violate an amendment to the Alabama Constitution which had been passed by over 80% of voters. He argued that the High Court's ruling in Obergefell only applied in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee, and not in Alabama or elsewhere in the U.S. because it and the other states, The District of Columbia, and territories were not involved in the Obergefell case.

  • On 2016-MAY-06: Alabama's Court of the Judiciary is a panel of judges, lawyers and other appointees. Its purpose is to hear complaints filed by the Judicial Inquiry Commission concerning allegedly improper actions by judges in the state, up to and including the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. On MAY-06, the Court filed a formal complaint against Chief Justice Moore, alleging that he had:

    "... flagrantly disregarded and abused his authority..."

    The Court rejected Chief Justice Moore's assertion that the High Courts ruling in Obergefell only applied to four states and not to Alabama. The complaint stated that his opinion is:

    "... contrary to clear and determined law about which there is no confusion or unsettled question."

This is a reference to Chief Justice Moore's administrative order on JAN-06.

The Court immediately suspended Chief Justice Moore from the bench. He issued a statement, saying:

    "We intend to fight this agenda vigorously and expect to prevail. ... [the Court had] chosen to listen to people like Ambrosia Starling, a professed transvestite, and other gay, lesbian and bisexual individuals, as well as organizations which support their agenda."

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  • On 2016-SEP-28, the Court of the Judiciary held a trial for Chief Justice Moore. He said in his defense that his administrative order did not order the Probate Judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He testified:

    "I would never tell them what to do, except advise them that they were under the Alabama order on Feb. 8, that they were under Alabama law and not subject to the federal judge's order. In that administrative order, I wasn't telling them to do anything."

  • On 2016-SEP-30, the Alabama Court of the Judiciary issued its ruling. It stated:
  • "Based upon the clear and convincing evidence of Chief Justice Moore's violations of the Canons of Judicial Ethics, his disregard for binding federal law exhibited in the Jan. 6, 2016, order and his history with this court ... Moore should be suspended from office without pay for the remainder of his term." 3

Most of the court preferred to remove Moore from the bench. However, this would have required a unanimous decision of the court, which was not possible. The suspension started immediately.

He won't lose his title. But he has, in effect, been terminated permanently, because he has been suspended until the end of his term in 2019. Further, he will be too old to run for office again. He said:

    "This was a politically motivated effort by radical homosexual and transgender groups to remove me as Chief Justice of the Supreme Court because of outspoken opposition to their immoral agenda. This opinion violates not only the legal standards of evidence but also the rule of law which states that no judge can be removed from office except by unanimous vote." 3

He may have misinterpreted the ruling. He was suspended, not removed from office.

Mat Staver is the founder and chairperson of Liberty Counsel which is an evangelical Christian organization that has represented many defendants recently who have claimed the religious freedom to discriminate against minorities -- in particular, sexual minorities. It has been called a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center -- the group that initiated the charges against Chief Justice Moore.

Staver defended Moore in court. After the court issued its ruling, Staver said:

"To suspend Chief Justice Moore for the rest of his term is the same as removal. The COJ lacked the unanimous votes to remove the Chief, so the majority instead chose to ignore the law and the rules."

Kayla Moore is the president of the Foundation for Moral Law and is married to Moore who is the organization's president emeritus. She said:

"The ruling today regarding our founder Chief Justice Roy Moore is nothing more than persecution of a Christian official. It is an effort to silence by threat of a removal. ..." 3

President Richard Cohen of the Southern Poverty Law Center commented:

"The Court of the Judiciary has done the citizens of Alabama a great service by suspending Roy Moore from the bench. He disgraced his office and undermined the integrity of the judiciary by putting his personal religious beliefs above his sworn duty to uphold the U.S. Constitution.

Moore was elected to be a judge, not a preacher. It's something that he never seemed to understand. The people of Alabama who cherish the rule of law are not going to miss the Ayatollah of Alabama."

Liberty Counsel plans to file an appeal of the court's decision with the Alabama Supreme Court. It apparently did not succeed.

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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. "Top judge in Alabama suspended over order to block marriage licenses for same-sex couples," Washington Post, 2016-SEP-30, at:
  2. Chris Johnson, "One year after marriage ruling, pockets of defiance remain," The Washington Blade, 2016-JUN-11, at:
  3. Chip Brownlee, "Chief Justice Roy Moore suspended for remainder of term," The Plainsman, 2016-SEP-30, at:

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    Site navigation: Home > Homosexuality > Same-sex marriage > Menu > Alabama > here

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Copyright 2016 & 2017 by Ontario Consultants on Religious Tolerance
Originally written: 2016-OCT-01
Latest update: 2017-DEC-13
Author: B.A. Robinson

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