John M. Becker

SPLC Sues for Marriage Equality in Alabama

Filed By John M. Becker | February 13, 2014 2:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Alabama, gay marriage, marriage discrimination, marriage equality, same-sex marriage, Southern Poverty Law Center, SPLC

rings.jpgThe Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), a venerable civil rights organization, announced that it's suing for marriage equality in Alabama. The group filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama today.

From the SPLC website:

The lawsuit... seeks to overturn the state's Marriage Protection Act, a 1998 law that bans the recognition of same-sex marriages from other states, and the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, which enshrined this ban in the constitution in 2005.

SPLC is filing the suit on behalf of Paul Hard, an Alabama man whose husband David was in a car wreck in 2011. Because their legal Massachusetts marriage isn't recognized by the state, the receptionist wouldn't tell him anything about his husband's condition. It took him half an hour to find out that David had died.

Later, the funeral director insisted that David's death certificate list him as unmarried because he and Paul were legal strangers in the eyes of the state. Paul has since sued over the wrongful death of his husband, but the non-recognition of his marriage to David presents substantial legal obstacles.

The SPLC writes:

The suit also demands that Hard receive his rightful share of the proceeds from a pending wrongful death suit, and that Alabama issue a corrected death certificate for Fancher that lists Hard as the surviving spouse.

"Alabama has created two classes of marriages within its borders and deemed one of those classes - marriages between people of the same sex - to be inferior to the other," said David C. Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. "This is unconstitutional."

According to blogger Joe Jervis, the addition of Alabama to the list of states with active marriage equality lawsuits means that there are only nine states remaining without one: Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wyoming. There are marriage-related suits in Kansas, Montana, and Ohio, but those lawsuits do not seek the legalization of same-sex marriage.

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