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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 9: Alabama: 2015-FEB-03
District Court judge refuses to terminate stay.
Madison County lacks resources to marry couples.
Marriage equality may arrive in AL on FEB-09.

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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-03: U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade refuses plaintiffs' request to lift the stay immediately:

Lawyers for the plaintiffs filed a motion with the District Court asking that the court's stay be terminated immediately, rather than expire as scheduled on FEB-09. It said:

"Plaintiffs respectfully submit that there is no reason for this Court's stay to remain in place until February 9, 2015, as this Court made clear that this Court's stay was to allow the Defendants time to seek appellate relief from the Eleventh Circuit on that issue. The Defendants have done so, and the Eleventh Circuit has denied their motion." 1

The Attorney General's office filed their response with the District Court asking that the temporary stay remain in place until FEB-09. They noted that their request to the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the stay might be granted. Also, they wrote that:

"... the officials who enforce Alabama's marriage laws have likely relied on the present expiration date of February 9 as they have considered the application of the Courts orders to their duties. An abrupt change in the expiration date of this Court's stay would likely add to the confusion." 1

It appears that if the U.S. Supreme Court does not interject itself into this conflict, that loving, committed same-sex couples will be able to apply for marriage licenses on Monday, FEB-09.

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2015-FEB-03: Commissioner Chip Beeker reads personal SSM statement at a public meeting of the Alabama Public Service Commission (PSC):

All three members of the PSC discussed their opposition to the ruling by District Judge Ginny Granade on JAN-23. Commissioner Chip Beeker read a statement. saying:

"Recently a federal district judge in Mobile ordered that a constitutional amendment passed in Alabama by 81 percent of the people who voted is unconstitutional.

I say clearly that I support Gov. Robert Bentley, Chief Justice Roy Moore and other officials who have taken a stand against this usurpation of the rights of Alabamians. But this order must be viewed for what it is, just another example of the federal government's overreach and refusal to respect its proper role.

In light of the other actions taken by our government, we should not be surprised by the outlandish stroke of this judge's pen." 2

PSC President Twinkle Andress Cavanaugh agreed, saying:

"We've got a rogue judge who is trying to change the law from the bench. The people of Alabama spoke overwhelmingly." 2

Of course, all of their statements have nothing to do with the price of electricity in Alabama and other matters which are actually under the Commission's jurisdiction.

The PSC officials appear to believe that the United States is a pure democracy where the vote of the people is the ultimate authority. They ignore the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution which state that federal, state, and local governments must treat people equally. That is, if a state has laws allowing opposite-sex couples to marry. the laws must also permit same-sex couples to marry, unless there is a very strong reason why the LGBT .

Wikipedia's essay on the Supremacy Clause in the U.S. Constitution states:

"The Supremacy Clause is the provision in Article Six, Clause 2 of the United States Constitution that establishes the United States Constitution, federal statutes, and treaties as 'the supreme law of the land.' It provides that these are the highest form of law in the United States legal system, and mandates that all state judges must follow federal law when a conflict arises between federal law and either a state constitution or state law of any state." 3

During some recent years, Alabama has been one of the lowest -- if not the lowest -- of all the states in terms of its citizens' support for marriage equality. Similarly, in the 1950's they fought all federal efforts to racially integrate their schools. Also, during the mid-19th century, they desperately wanted to preserve human slavery. So it is natural that officers in the state government want to find some way to negate the effects of the Supremacy Clause today. The state hasn't succeeded in the past to insulate their state from the requirements of the U.S. Constitution. This might be the last time that they try.

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Madison County Probate Judge Tommy Ragland will refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples:

In an question and answer section on the court's web site that was updated sometime during 2015, he wrote:

  • Question: Can a marriage license be issued to applicants of the same sex? 

  • Answer: No. Under Article I, § 36.03(b) of the Alabama Constitution and Alabama Code § 30-1-19(b), marriage is defined as 'a unique relationship between a man and a woman.' Both Article I, § 36.03(d) of the Alabama Constitution and Alabama Code § 30-1-19(d) expressly state, 'No marriage license shall be issued in the State of Alabama to parties of the same sex'."4

The bans that he cites in the Constitution and Alabama Code have both been determined to be unconstitutional and void by an U.S. District Court in Alabama. This may leave him vulnerable to lawsuits from same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses on or after FEB-09.

Madison County has traditionally married couples with marriage licenses at the courthouse. However, their staff have suddenly realized that they no longer have adequate resources to continue this service. Fortunately, couples can travel to another county, obtain a license, and may be able to be married there.

Filling this gap, a group of volunteers obtained a permit that allows them to perform marriage ceremonies in the brick gazebos across from the Madison County Court House during their self-proclaimed "Wedding Week" 2015-FEB-09 to 13 from 8:30 AM to 5 PM. They will welcome any couple with an Alabama wedding license, whether they be of the same or different sexes " 5 The Unity Church on the Mountain is also offering their facilities at 1328 Governors Drive SE in Huntsville, AL. 6

One intersting law in Alabama is that individuals who can solemnize marriages cannot do it for free. They must charge at least $1.00. The organizers of Wedding Week plan to "... have dollars on hand" for the couples to use. 7

WAAYTV.com - Huntsville, Alabama - News Weather, Sports |

According to the U.S. Marriage Laws web site:

"There is no waiting period in Alabama except individuals who wish to remarry after having being divorced. Then, there is a 60 day waiting period after your divorce is final.

Nonresidents who want to be married by a county marriage official may have to wait three days. Please contact the county offices to verify whether or not you will have a waiting period." 8

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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. Brandon Kirby, "Judge denies request to move up Alabama same-sex marriage deadline; unions start Monday," Alabama Media Group, 2015-FEB-03, at: http://www.al.com/
  2. Mike Cason, "Alabama Public Service Commissioners criticize same-sex marriage ruling," Alabama Media Group, 2015-FEB-02, at: http://www.al.com/
  3. "Supremacy Clause," Wikipedia, as on 2014-DEC-01, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  4. "Marriage licenses," Madison County Probate Judge's Office, 2015, at: http://madisoncountyal.gov/
  5. "Wedding Week," at: http://weddingweekhsv.blogspot.ca/
  6. "Weddings at Unity Church on the Mountain," at: http://unitychurchweddings.com/
  7. Joe Jervis"ALABAMA: Activists Plan Free Wedding Week At Madison County Courthouse," Joe My God, 2015-FEB-02, at: http://joemygod.blogspot.com/
  8. "US Marriage Laws," at: http://usmarriagelaws.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-03
Latest update: 2015-FEB-06
Author: B.A. Robinson

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