Alabama has become a subject of national news after a U.S. district judge declared the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.
U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade ruled in favor of Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand, who were denied their “desire for a second-parent adoption of a 9-year old boy” because of the Alabama Marriage Protection Act and the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, according to an al.com article.
Searcy and McKeand were legally married in California, but their marriage was not recognized in Alabama because of the act, which was passed in 1998.
The act states: “Marriage is a unique relationship between a man and a woman… A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state.” It goes on to say: “No marriage license will be issued in the state of Alabama to parties of the same sex.”
This state constitution was amended in 2006 by the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, which further stated that “any 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.”
This is not the first lawsuit against the act and amendment.
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a lawsuit in 2014 after Paul Hard was refused information about his husband, David Fancher, before his death after a car accident.
This ruling comes as a surprise to some members of the Lesbian/Gay/Bisexual/Transgender/Queer community at Troy University.
Julian Carroll, a freshman political science major from Dayton, Ohio, and a member of the LGBTQ community at Troy University, said that this ruling is a step forward for the state and U.S.
“It was very surprising to hear about the ruling,” Carroll said. “This ruling is an improvement, though, even for the nation.”
Alex Millard, a senior English major from Enterprise, said that this ruling opens a door for discussions on more topics that affect the LGBTQ community.
“What this can mean for me, personally, being transgendered, is the prospect of opening up queer issues for discussion on a larger scale,” said Millard. “Something like this happening in Alabama, taking into account the state’s reputation, inadvertently forces the rest of the nation to pay attention and hopefully will allow them to widen their focus to include the rest of the LGBTQ community and the struggles that come with being queer and having lesser representation.
“With that being said, I can’t be surprised that the attorney general’s office is appealing the judge’s ruling. It’s in Alabama’s nature, it seems, to be violently old-fashioned and to suggest that ‘defending’ the state’s awful law is something needing to be done to preserve the ‘values’ of said state. Regardless, I can easily disregard the immediate conservative backlash because it still happened, and it’s now in the news. The rest of the nation and the world will get to see that the LGTBQ community is still struggling in America, too. They can see that we need help, and maybe, someday soon, we’ll get it.”
Not all are supportive of the ruling.
Aubrey Toole, a senior biomedical sciences major from Pace, Florida, was disappointed with the judge’s ruling.
“It is disappointing because Alabama has had this (gay marriage ban) law for so long and now the federal government is trying to influence the change of Alabama’s conservative stance on this issue,” said Toole.
One student, who wishes to remain anonymous, said that while he or she is not against gay people, he or she is not in support of gay marriage.
“I don’t have anything against gay people, but I believe marriage is meant to be a sacred covenant between a man and a woman,” the student said. “Marriage is sacred and our society has been downplaying the sanctity of marriage.”
Many probate judges in the state, who issue marriage licenses, said they would not follow the ruling of Granade, including Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen.
“We (Alabama probate judges) thought that we were not a party to that ruling that she made Friday night, and it was only two parties: the couple that tried to adopt the child and Luther Strange, the attorney general,” Allen said. “So, because were not a party, we just felt like this was business as usual for us. It didn’t affect us. After the latest statement the judge has made about the ruling, I’m not ready to comment at this time at anything going forward, anything hypothetical. I stand by my statement made previously.”
A Troy Messenger article said that Allen announced via Twitter that the Pike County Probate Office would not issue same-sex marriage licenses.
“In accordance with current Alabama law, the Pike County Probate Office will not issue marriage licenses to same sex couples,” Allen said in a statement he first released Sunday via Twitter. “The recent Federal Court ruling on same sex adoption issued by Judge Granade of the Southern District of Alabama does not require this Probate Judge’s office to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.”
On Wednesday, Granade issued a statement clarifying her ruling, and said that it applied to all probate judges in the state. Alabama’s probate judges have since agreed that the ruling applies to everyone, not just parties involved in the initial adoption case, an al.com article said.
Since the ruling Friday, Granade has agreed to place a stay on her ruling for 14 days, to give the 11th Circuit Court in Atlanta time to appeal her ruling, and has ruled in favor of a second Alabama couple’s request to be allowed to marry in Alabama.
The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to make a decision on this issue by the end of June.