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Religious Tolerance logo

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

Part 1:

Alabama: Steps taken towards marriage equality:
2006: The SSM bans.
2014-MAY: Lawsuit to repeal the bans.

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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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wedding ringsMore quotations illustrating opposing points of view about marriage for same-sex couples:

bullet"If marriage means everything, it means absolutely nothing." Dr. James C. Dobson, of Focus on the Family.

bullet"A loving man and woman in a committed relationship can marry. Dogs, no matter what their relationship, are not allowed to marry. How should society treat gays and lesbians in committed relationships? As dogs or as humans?" A posting to an Internet mailing list; used by permission of the author.

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US map with Alabama highlighted 2015-JAN-01: History and current status of marriage equality and LGBT protections in Alabama:

Since Alabama is one of the most conservative states in the U.S., members of the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender/Transsexual (LGBT) community have enjoyed few protections and benefits there:

  • Same-gender sexual behavior was a criminal act until the U.S. Supreme Court legalized such activity in its 2003 ruling in Lawrence v. Texas. The state's anti-sodomy law still remains on the books, but cannot be enforced. It is unlikely to be repealed because that would probably be regarded by most people in the state as being a pro-LGBT move.

  • Same-sex couples have not been able to marry within Alabama. The marriages of same-sex couples that have been solemnized out-of-state are not recognized in as valid by the state.

  • Individual members of the LGBT community can adopt children as a single parent, but married LGBT spouses have not been permitted to jointly adopt their own children.

  • Transgender persons and transsexuals can have their birth certificate modified to recognize their gender identity, but only after sexual reassignment surgery (SRS) is completed.

  • Alabama's anti-discrimination/human rights legislation does not include either sexual orientation or gender identity as a protected class. Attempts have been made in the Legislature to include them. None have been successful. However, Montgomery, AL -- Alabama's second largest city -- does prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation. 1

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thumb down image2006-JUN: Same-sex marriage was banned in Alabama:

Constitutional amendment #774 was placed on the ballot by the Legislature to ban marriage equality. It was passed by 81% of the voters on the primary election ballot on 2006-JUN-06. During the following 8.5 years, support for marriage equality has increased substantially across the U.S. However, if the amendment were voted upon again during 2015-JAN, it would almost certainly be upheld by the majority of voters.

The Amendment to the Constitution states:

"(a) This amendment shall be known and may be cited as the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.

(b) Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman. As a matter of public policy, this state has a special interest in encouraging, supporting, and protecting this unique relationship in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and its children. A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state.

(c) Marriage is a sacred covenant, solemnized between a man and a woman, which, when the legal capacity and consent of both parties is present, establishes their relationship as husband and wife, and which is recognized by the state as a civil contract.

(d) No marriage license shall be issued in the State of Alabama to parties of the same sex.

(e) The State of Alabama shall not recognize as valid any marriage of parties of the same sex that occurred or was alleged to have occurred as a result of the law of any jurisdiction regardless of whether a marriage license was issued.

(f) The State of Alabama shall not recognize as valid any common law marriage of parties of the same sex.

(g) A union replicating marriage of or between persons of the same sex in the State of Alabama or in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state as a marriage or other union replicating marriage." 2

Alabama was the 20th state to add such a ban to their Constitution. Like similar bans in many other states, this was a stealth amendment. It was promoted as simple ban on same-sex marriage, but in fact prohibited the Legislature from creating civil unions, and perhaps domestic partnerships as well. As a result, the relationships of same-sex couples are not recognized; the state views them as "legal strangers" -- as simple roommates.

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gavel2014-MAY-07: Same-sex marriage case Searcy v. Strange filed in Alabama:

During 2008, a same-sex couple, Cari D. Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, were married in California. During 2012, they had petitioned Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis. They asked that Searcy be allowed to adopt McKeand's 9-year-old son which they have both raised from birth together. Their petition was rejected and the Judge's decision was later upheld by a state appeals court. 3

On 2014-MAY-07. the couple and their son filed a lawsuit Searcy v. Strange in federal court: the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. The lead defendant is Alabama's Attorney General Luther Strange. Cari Searcy challenged the constitutionality of the "Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" in the state Constitution and the Alabama "Marriage Protection Act." Both prohibited marriages by same-sex couples and banned recognition of such marriages solemnized out-of-state.

Plaintiff Searcy based her request on Alabama's adoption code that allows a person to adopt their "spouse's child." Searcy currently has had no legal right to make medical decision for their child. This could be life threatening in the event of certain medical emergencies. The couple had considered moving to another state to jointly adopt their child, but decided to remain in Alabama and fight for their rights at home. Searcy said:

"That would have been the easy way out. And the cheaper way, frankly." 3

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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. "LGBT rights in Alabama," Wikipedia, as on 2015-, at: http://en.wikipedia.org/
  2. Alabama Sanctity of Marriage, Constitutional Amendment 774 (June 2006)","Ballotpedia, at: http://ballotpedia.org/
  3. "Mobile women at center of Alabama gay marriage fight celebrate court victory," Alabama Media Group, 2015-JAN-26, 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-JAN-26
Latest update: 2015-JAN-30
Author: B.A. Robinson

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