John M. Becker

Alabama Becomes a Marriage Equality State

Filed By John M. Becker | February 09, 2015 10:00 AM | comments

Filed in: Marriage Equality, Politics
Tags: Alabama, gay marriage, George Wallace, marriage equality, Roy Moore, same-sex marriage, Supreme Court

first-birmingham-same-sex-marriage.jpgThis morning, the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request from the state of Alabama to stay a pro-marriage equality federal district court ruling, allowing the Yellowhammer State to become the 37th state where same-sex couples have the freedom to marry (and tipping its hand about the way it intends to rule on nationwide marriage equality this June).

Couples are currently obtaining marriage licenses in Alabama over the objections of Roy Moore, the grandstanding wingnut chief justice of the state's Supreme Court -- who, in a move reminiscent of Gov. George Wallace's infamous attempt to block federally-ordered integration by standing in a doorway at the University of Alabama -- created a false sense of confusion by ordering state judges to follow Alabama's discriminatory law, not the federal court order.

The Huffington Post reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court refused to halt same-sex marriages in Alabama, paving the way for the first gay couples to marry in the state on Monday.

In January, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had asked a judge to put a stay on the ruling that overturned the state's ban on gay marriage. Roy Moore, chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, sent an order to state probate judges Sunday night telling them not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, according to the AP.

The Supreme Court justices ruled 7-2 Monday morning that same-sex weddings could start in Alabama, making it the 37th state where gay marriage is allowed.

More information, including a copy of the dissent from Justices Thomas and Scalia (via Equality Case Files), is after the break.

Same-sex couples are now marrying in Alabama, and some anti-equality protesters have gathered outside county offices. As Zack Ford of ThinkProgress reports, some probate judges are choosing to defy the United States Supreme Court and obey Roy Moore's order instead:

Probate judges in various counties have indicated that they will in some way circumvent same-sex marriage licenses. For example, Marengo County Probate Judge Laurie Hall has said that her office will still make marriage licenses available, but she will no longer sign them for any couple. Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen has similarly taken his office "out of the marriage licensing business altogether," citing state law that indicates that judges "may" issue marriage licenses -- but don't have to. Clarke County Probate Judge Valerie Davis has taken the same step, while judges in Covington County and Washington County will continue to discriminate against same-sex couples per the unconstitutional state law.

Moore's desperate stunt has earned him the wrath of the Birmingham News, the state's largest paper, which is currently running a poll asking readers whether or not the Chief Justice is fighting marriage equality because he "is a closeted homosexual." As of this writing, "yes" is winning with over 69% of the vote, with "Maybe, but just that one time in college" coming in a distant second with 23%. Just 8% of respondents have voted "no." Click here to vote.

The American Civil Liberties Union has set up a hotline for Alabama same-sex couples to call if they are denied their legal right to marry. Judges who refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples but continue to provide them to opposite-sex couples could face fines and jail time. It should also be noted that Alabama state law does not protect against discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation (or gender identity), meaning that the same-sex couples getting married there today are doing so despite the fact that they could be legally fired from their job -- just for saying "I do."

Order and Dissent

14A840 SCOTUS Alabama Stay Denied by Equality Case Files

Photo: Olanda Smith and Dinah McCaryer exchange vows, becoming the first same-sex couple to be legally married in Birmingham, Alabama. Image credit: FOX 6 reporter Clare Huddleston, via Twitter.

Leave a comment

We want to know your opinion on this issue! While arguing about an opinion or idea is encouraged, personal attacks will not be tolerated. Please be respectful of others.

The editorial team will delete a comment that is off-topic, abusive, exceptionally incoherent, includes a slur or is soliciting and/or advertising. Repeated violations of the policy will result in revocation of your user account. Please keep in mind that this is our online home; ill-mannered house guests will be shown the door.