Tag: callie granade

Battle for same-sex marriage continues in Alabama

On Tuesday, March 3, 2015 the Alabama Supreme Court ordered county probate judges to uphold the state ban on same-sex marriage until a final ruling is issued by the U.S. Supreme Court.

The decision challenges an order, made by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade on January 23, which overturned Alabama’s ban on gay marriage.

Calhoun County Probate Judge Alice Martin and probate judges statewide had stopped issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples a day after the Alabama Supreme Court made its decision. The probate court in Mobile County has chosen to protest the ruling by not issuing marriage licenses to heterosexual or same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments in April on whether gay couples nationwide have a fundamental right to marry and whether states can ban those unions.

Before the ruling last Tuesday, 48 of the state’s 67 counties were acknowledging that Alabama had become the 37th U.S. state where gays can legally wed, according to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for gay marriage nationwide.

In the ruling, the Court granted an emergency petition by two anti-LGBT groups, the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program, who sought to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses across the state.

Tuesday’s decision stated that probate judges would have five days to submit responses if they want to show cause why they should be able to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “Judge Martin had no immediate plans to submit such a response, and that Martin’s decision not to do so was in line with the decisions of most of the state’s probate judges,” Shirley Miller, chief clerk at the Probate Office of Calhoun County said, according to a story by The Anniston Star from March 5.

“Six of the court’s nine justices concurred in yesterday’s opinion. A seventh concurred in part and there was a single dissent, based not on constitutional issues but a contention that the court did not have jurisdiction,” according to an article by The Washington Post from March 4. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has spoken openly against same-sex marriage, did not take part in the ruling.

“The Alabama State Supreme Court does not have the authority to interfere with a federal court order,” Human Rights Campaign legal director Sarah Warbelow told al.com.,“This order is outrageous and baffling, and no amount of legalese can hide the bare animus that forms the foundation of this extralegal ruling.”

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue of same-sex marriage nationwide by June, and a ruling in favor of those marriages could strike down every state ban simultaneously.

Adam Higgins
Staff Writer

Gay marriage rulings in Alabama

Ten years ago the Alabama Legislature, led by Democrats, proposed a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage. Nine years ago, Alabama voters approved that amendment by an overwhelming majority.

Last week, a Bush-appointed federal judge in Mobile ruled against the state citing its ban on the recognition of gay marriage.

On Monday, the same judge ruled in another case that Alabama’s law violates the rights of those wishing to marry.

As you can imagine, this has caused heated debate among state leaders, politicos and really anyone with an opinion on the issue.

Early proponents of the rulings were under the impression that gay couples could receive marriage licenses as early as Monday.

“Not so fast,” said the Alabama Probate Judges Association. Al Agricola, an attorney for the association, said the ruling only applies to parties named in the case. Therefore, probate judges must “issue marriage licenses in accordance with Alabama law.”

Alabama’s Republican Attorney General Luther Strange has been fighting to appeal the rulings. In fact, the judge has agreed to ‘stay’, or place on hold, the ruling for two weeks; but she isn’t willing to wait forever.

“As long as a stay is in place, same-sex couples and their families remain in a state of limbo with respect to adoption, child care and custody, medical decisions, employment and health benefits, future tax implications, inheritance and many other rights associated with marriage,” wrote U.S. District Judge Callie Granade.

Alabama’s Republican Speaker of the House, currently facing 23 felony charges of corruption, also chimed in through a prepared statement. “It is outrageous when a single unelected and unaccountable federal judge can overturn the will of millions of Alabamians who stand firm in support of the Sanctity of Marriage Act,” said the Speaker.

On the other side, Alabama’s only openly gay lawmaker Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, supported the ruling saying she did not expect it so soon. After seeing heated opposition from other state lawmakers, Rep. Todd stated that she is prepared to ‘out’ her colleagues who are having extramarital affairs and who are making degrading statements about same-sex couples in light of the rulings.

The issue is a divisive one, with many different people from many different backgrounds, cultures and experiences viewing it in differing ways.

But, one thing is certain, as much as this is a human issue affecting real lives and real families; it is also a serious states’ rights issue. Less than a decade ago, it was deliberated and agreed upon by both parties and by voters.

Now, a federal judge with the stroke of a pen has overturned the will of the people in the name of equality under the law.

Federalism is defined as “the distribution of power between a central authority and the constituent units.” By that definition, it seems this issue is one that will be decided in the central authority’s courts, not the constituent unit’s legislature.

Brett Johnson
Political Columnist