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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 8: Alabama: 2015-FEB-01 to 03
Freedom to Marry's TV ad campaign (Cont'd).
Results of SSM public opinion polls for Alabama.
11th Circuit Court refuses to extend the stay.

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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-FEB-01: Freedom to Marry starts ad campaign on Alabama TV (Cont'd):

Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry -- a national pro-equality group -- said:

"Our ad keeps the spotlight on what’s at the heart of the Alabama marriage cases, as well as similar cases now before the U.S. Supreme Court: love, commitment, family, and equality under the law. And how can you not be touched by Jessica and Chi's heartfelt desire for the state they love and live in to respect their family and treat them as what they are -- married? Alabama, like all of America, is ready for the freedom to marry." 1

Webmaster's thoughts [bias alert]:

Actually, it is easy for many people to prefer that same-sex couples be denied access to marriage. Often, they base their belief on a conservative interpretation of about six passages in the Bible. They conclude that God is very strongly opposed to SSM. Many believe that individuals in the LGBT community choose their sexuality and can -- with effort -- develop a heterosexual sexual orientation or a cisgendered gender identity. Many believe that lesbians and gays are driven by lust and are incapable of love. Many have not known a member of the LGBT community as a friend. Many believe that God will punish people in states that have attained marriage equality with natural disasters like earthquakes, tornadoes, hurricanes, tsunamis, etc.

Ads like this one may have a powerful effect on those who oppose marriage equality.

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Alabama public opinion on marriage by same-sex couples:

  • 2004: The Williams Institute at UCLA Law specializes in " conducting rigorous, independent research on sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy." 2 They conducted a study of public support/opposition to same-sex marriage among adults in each state during 2004. They found that Alabama had the lowest level of support among all of the states in the U.S.: only 16% of adults favored marriage equality.

  • 2006: 81% of Alabama voters approved amending the state constitution to ban same-sex marriage; 19% were opposed to the amendment. Some of those who voted against the amendment probably did not favor marriage equality; they simply felt that a ban didn't belong in the state Constitution.

  • 2012: The Williams Institute estimated that SSM support in Alabama had doubled to 32%. This survey found that only Arkansas and Louisiana had lower support among all the U.S. states. 3

  • 2012: The Pew Research Center analyzed 2012 surveys of public support & opposition to SSM. They found that the south-central states of Alabama, Arkansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Oklahoma, Tennessee and Texas averaged 35% in favor and 56% opposition. This was the lowest level of support for SSM of any of the eight regions of the U.S. Only in the South Central and South Atlantic regions was there a plurality of the public opposed to marriage equality. 4

  • 2014-OCT: A New York Times/CBS poll was conducted among 692 likely voters. They found that 28% approved of same-sex marriage while 60% were opposed and 12% were undecided. 10

  • 2015-JAN-27: A WKRG/News 5 poll was conducted among 3.114 registered voters. They found that, of those persons with an opinion, 30% approved of same-sex marriage while 69.9% were opposed. 5
  • 2015-JAN-30: A Wikipedia article reports "public opinion for same-sex marriage reported in the past two years" for each state. Alabama is quoted as being 28% in favor, 60% opposed and 10% no opinion. 6

  • 2015-FEB-03: The ISideWith.com web site is conducting an online poll on same-sex marriage. 49.5% of the visitors to their site who live in Alabama and who voted were in favor of marriage equality; 51.5% are opposed. Unfortunately, the results are not particularly meaningful, because the people who vote are self-selected. They may be not typical of the general population of Alabama. 7

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2015-FEB-03: 11th Circuit Court refused the state's request for a stay extension and plaintiffs' request for a stay reduction:

On JAN-23, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade had issued a ruling, declaring that Alabama's bans on marriage by same-sex couples violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. Thus, they were unconstitutional and void. She stayed her decision until FEB-09.

Attorney General Luther Strange immediately appealed the case to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, asking that the District Court's stay be extended until the 11th Circuit issued its ruling.

On FEB-03, a three-judge panel of the 11th Circuit Court refused the request for a stay extension. They gave no reason for their decision. If there is no future interference, the District Court's stay will automatically expire on FEB-09. Same-sex couples would be able to marry starting on that date. Same-sex couples in Alabama who had been married in other states would have their marital status recognized. They would receive a few hundred state benefits and protections along with 1,138 federal benefits and protections for themselves and their children. That is, they would be treated just like opposite-sex married couples.

Christine Hernandex, a lawyer for the plaintiffs in the Searcy v. Strange case, anticipated that marriage equality will probably come to the state on FEB-09. She said:

"Finally, we've got to the point that all Alabama citizens are going to be treated equally." 8

However, Attorney General Strange immediately filed a request with the U.S. Supreme Court, asking them to extend the stay. He said:

"The confusion that has been created by the District Court's ruling could linger for months until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves this issue once and for all."

In mid-January, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted four appeals of lawsuits involving same-sex marriage from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee. The high court is expected to hold hearings in late April, and issue a ruling in late June or early July. Whatever their decision is, it will probably harmonize the conflicts over same-sex marriage throughout the United States.

Webmaster's comment (bias alert):

If same-sex couples were given the option of:

  • Being married in a somewhat confused state, or

  • Having no marriage benefits or protections at all,
I suspect that they would prefer the former.

Justice Clarence Thomas is the individual in the U.S. Supreme Court who responds to emergency requests from the three states that are under the jurisdiction of the 11th Circuit Court -- Alabama, Florida, and Georgia. He may issue a decision on his own, or -- more probably -- will involve a vote by all nine Justices.

According to Yahoo! News:

"Carl Tobias, a professor at the University of Richmond School of Law, said he was doubtful Alabama could win a reprieve from the Supreme Court. He said the Supreme Court [recently] rebuffed a similar request from the Florida attorney general." 9

The 11th Circuit Court also rejected a motion by the plaintiffs to immediately lift the District Court's stay.

Ashley Jackson, the Alabama State Director of the Human Rights Campaign -- a national marriage equality organization -- said:

"The time has come for loving and committed couples from Florence and Huntsville to the Gulf Coast to be able to marry in the state they call home." 8

As noted above, about 60% to 70% of the adults in Alabama would probably disagree with her statement at this time. That opinion is probably contributing to the Attorney General desperately trying to halt the move to marriage equality

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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. " 'Freedom to Marry' highlights lesbian family in new Alabama-focused ad," Towleroad, 2015-FEB-01, at: http://www.towleroad.com/
  2. "Mission," The Williams Institute, University of California School of Law, 2011, at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/
  3. "Public Support for Marriage for Same-sex Couples by State," Figure 2, Williams Institute, 2013-APR, at: http://williamsinstitute.law.ucla.edu/
  4. "Behind Gay Marriage Momentum, Regional Gaps Persist," Pew Research Center, 2012-NOV-09, at: http://www.people-press.org/
  5. Tiffany McCall, "70 Percent of Alabama Voters Still Against Same-Sex Marriage," WKRG-TV, 2015-JAN-27, at: http://www.wkrg.com/
  6. "Public opinion of same-sex marriage in the United States," Wikipedia, as on 2015-JAN-30, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  7. "Do you support the legalization of same sex marriage," ISideWith.com, as on 2015-FEB-03, at: http://www.isidewith.com/
  8. Adam Lerner, "Court orders Alabama to issue gay marriage licenses," Politico, 2015-FEB-03, at: http://www.politico.com/
  9. Kin Chandler, "Alabama gay weddings could begin next week," Yahoo! News, 2015-FEB-03, at: http://news.yahoo.com/
  10. "Battleground Tracker 2014: National attitudes," YouGov, 2014-SEP-07, at: https://today.yougov.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-FEB-02
Latest update: 2015-FEB-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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