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Alabama Marriage Equality Update 2/10/15

Tuesday, February 10th, 2015

AlabamaAnother day, more controversy in Alabama as the marriage equality fight continues.

At least three counties have relented and started to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples:

It’s possible that these counties are reacting to a statement made last night by the governor. Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and a Southern Baptist, said he believes strongly that marriage is between one man and one woman, but that the issue should be “worked out through the proper legal channels” and not through defiance of the law. The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.” “I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. The three counties (Limestone, Morgan, and Elmore) have a combined population of 280,000. That still leaves more than 50 counties who are not serving gay couples.

Attorney General Luther Strange filed his response to the plaintiffs’ amended complaint.

Equality on Trial reports:

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has filed his response to yesterday’s request from the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), who’s representing the plaintiffs in Strawser v. Strange, to amend their complaint, add new plaintiffs and defendants, and request a preliminary injunction or temporary restraining order against the Mobile County Probate Judge. The filing notes that the attorney general can’t issue marriage licenses, nor can he order county probate judges to take any actions or open their offices. Because of that, he doesn’t oppose the addition of plaintiffs who are seeking marriage licenses from Mobile County, and the probate judge of the county as a defendant.

The judge in the case has scheduled a hearing for Friday.

Equality on Trial reports:

The federal district court judge who overturned Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban has scheduled a hearing for Thursday, February 12 on the request in Strawser for an injunction requiring Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis. The county is still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and they’re see

Some straight couples have been caught in the crossfire:

Meanwhile, Governor Bentley made some conciliatory noises.

Equality on Trial reports:

The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.” “I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“I’m trying to move this state forward.”

Chief Justice Roy Moore mouthed off again.

The Dallas Voice reports:

…on Monday, Feb. 9, Moore explained to ABC News that he has to stop same-sex marriage, because if loving, committed adult couples of the same gender are allowed to legally marry, then all hell is gonna break loose and then “men and their daughters or women and their sons” would be insisting they be allowed to get married too.

In a fitting tribute, the Klu Klux Klan came out in support of Moore today.

Joe.My.God reports:

From the website of the United Dixie White Knights: The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama’s chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny. The Feds have no authority over individual States marriage laws. The fudgepackers from Hollywood and all major news networks are in shock that the good people from the heart of Dixie are resisting their Imperialist, Communist Homosexual agenda!

Lambda Legal is urging probate judges to ignore Moore.

SDGLN reports:

Lambda Legal today sent an open letter to the president of the Alabama Probate Judges Association and probate judges of counties that are not issuing licenses to same-sex couples urging them to disregard Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s legally incorrect and unfounded Administrative Order and instead issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and different-sex couples alike, after the U.S. Supreme Court rejected the state’s request for a stay.

A woman in Autauga County was arrested after trying to perform a same sex wedding ceremony in the probate judge’s office.

Joe.My.God reports:

An Autauga County woman was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct Tuesday morning after offering to perform a same sex marriage inside the probate judge’s office. Anne Susan Diprizio, of the 300 block of Cambridge Street, is charged with disorderly conduct, said Dave Hill, chief deputy of the Autauga County Sheriff’s Office. She was being processed in the Autauga Metro Jail after her arrest and was unavailable for comment. Courthouse records show she doesn’t have an attorney. She was being held on a bond of $1,000, Hill said.

The state has put up the biggest fight against marriage equality so far.

AL.com reports:

Carl Tobias, a University of Richmond School of Law professor who has tracked same-sex marriage litigation across the country, said he does not believe any other state has resisted the federal court system as aggressively as Alabama. He said the closest analogy probably is Florida, where clerks across the state initially insisted that a judge’s order striking down that state’s ban applied only in one county. “It never really culminated in this situation,” he said, referring to Monday’s wild day in Alabama. “The day came, and they were ready and everything went OK.”

US Senator Jeff Sessions jumped into the fray today.

Towleroad.com reports:

Sessions told CQ Roll Call that he believes judges’ rulings in favor of marriage equality have more to do with sentiment that an accurate interpretation of the U.S. Constitution: “I think it’s an unhealthy trend that judges feel that they’re somehow reflecting popular opinion when first of all, it’s not popular opinion, and secondly, who are they to be ruling on cases based on how they feel.”

Nate Cohn at the New York Times looks at the depth of opposition to gay marriage in Alabama:

…Those results suggest that Alabama would have voted overwhelmingly against same-sex marriage if it had been on the ballot there in 2012. I estimate the vote would have been roughly 73 percent to 27 percent against same-sex marriage. The estimate is based on the relationship between support for same-sex marriage in Maine, Maryland, Minnesota and Washington; educational attainment; population density; the number of evangelical Christians and African-Americans; and support for Mr. Obama. Support for same-sex marriage has increased further over the last two years, rising to about 54 percent last year from 49 percent in 2012, according to Pew and Gallup national polls. Nonetheless, a majority — and probably two-thirds — of Alabama voters most likely remain opposed.

Now we wait for Friday’s hearing and the judge’s ruling.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

All Florida Counties Must Follow Marriage Equality Ruling on 1/6, Judge Says

Friday, January 2nd, 2015

Rainbow FloridaThe Federal Judge who issued the marriage equality ruling in Washington County said last night that the ruling applies to all 67 counties in the state.

Watermark Online reports:

Federal Judge Robert Hinkle – who ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional back in August – has issued his order on the scope of his ruling. “The founders of this republic adopted a Constitution and a system for its enforcement,” Hinkle’s ruling reads. “When there are disagreements about what the Constitution requires, those who are affected may seek a definitive ruling in court. These plaintiffs did that in this case. The Secretary and Surgeon General–as duly empowered officials of the State of Florida, represented by the Attorney General–joined issue. So did the Clerk. The result was an explicit ruling that Florida’s same-sex- marriage ban is unconstitutional.”

And Florida Attorney General Pam Bondi says her office will get out of the way.

Watermark reports:

In response to a federal judge’s Dec. 31 order stating his ruling, which declared Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, applies statewide, Pam Bondi released the following statement: “This office has sought to minimize confusion and uncertainty, and we are glad the Court has provided additional guidance. My office will not stand in the way as clerks of court determine how to proceed.”

It looks unlikely that anything else will get in the way of Florida marriage equality before the 6th.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Florida.

South Carolina Supreme Court Lifts Marriage Equality Stay Early

Thursday, November 20th, 2014

UPDATE 7:20 AM: The US Supreme Court just turned the state away.

The Washington Blade reports:

The U.S. Supreme Court won’t stop same-sex marriages from taking place in South Carolina following a decision against the state’s ban on gay nuptials. A one-page order from the court on Thursday indicates the stay request from state officials to block same-sex marriages and presented to U.S. Chief Justice John Roberts was referred to the entire court and denied. However, the order notes U.S. Associate Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas would have granted the stay.


South Carolina MapThings are moving along on the marriage equality front in South Carolina too. The state Supreme Court lifted the stay on the recent ruling early.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

The South Carolina Supreme Court has lifted an injunction that prohibited the state’s probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order comes following a ruling on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge J. Michelle Childs in Columbia in favor of Highway Patrol Trooper Katherine Bradacs and U.S. Air Force retiree Tracie Goodwin, who sued to have the state to recognize their marriage performed in Washington, D.C. Childs ruled the state’s failure to recognize their marriage was unconstitutional.

At least six couples in Charleston immediately received marriage licenses.

On Top Magazine reports:

At least six gay couples received marriage licenses Wednesday in South Carolina. According to multiple local sources, Probate Judge Irvin Condon in Charleston issued the licenses. Within hours, Kristin Anderson and Kayla Bennett exchanged vows, making them the first gay couple to legally marry in the state. The women, together 4 years, wed in front of the Charleston County Courthouse in a ceremony officiated by Tobin Williamson.

Atty. Gen. Alan Wilson is still pinning his hopes on the US Supreme Court.

Fits News reports:

South Carolina is the only state in the fourth circuit blocking gay marriages. Its lawyers argue that conflicting lower court rulings (the sixth circuit court of appeals has upheld the right of states to ban gay marriage) necessitate the intervention of the U.S. Supreme Court. For his part, Wilson has said he’s just doing his job as the state’s top lawyer – but in the process he’s become a hero of the religious right. “Alan Wilson isn’t simply going through the motions,” said Oran Smith of the Palmetto Family Council – a group which opposes gay marriage. “He and his lawyers are crafting new strategies.”

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in South Carolina.

Arizona AG Concedes That 9th Circuit Ruling Applies, Awaits Mandate

Friday, October 17th, 2014

Arizona Attorney General Tom HorneThings are moving along for marriage equality in Arizona. Republican Atty. Gen. Tom Horne just conceded that the recent Ninth Circuit rulings in Nevada and Idaho apply to Arizona.

AZ Central reports:

In legal documents filed Thursday, Republican Arizona Attorney General Tom Horne wrote that he believes a recent appeals-court ruling striking down similar marriage bans in other states applies to Arizona. But he asked U.S. District Court Judge John Sedwick to wait to overturn the law until the appeals court issues its legal mandate. A mandate instructs courts to go forward with the opinion. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit issued a mandate last week within hours of ruling that marriage laws in Idaho and Nevada violated couples’ rights to equal protection under the 14th Amendment. But the court withdrew its mandate so Idaho could appeal.

Nevertheless, the ruling is expected shortly:

Sedwick could issue a ruling at any time. If he deems the law unconstitutional, Horne could then either concede and instruct county clerks to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples or appeal to the 9th Circuit.

It’s quite possible that Arizona will have marriage equality by next week, unless of course the Atty. Gen. decides to draw this whole thing out.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arizona.

Virginia Marriage Equality Case Appealed to US Supreme Court

Saturday, August 9th, 2014

Mark Herring, Virginia Attorney General CandidateThe Virginia marriage equality case is the third to officially be appealed to the US Supreme Court.

The Washington Blade reports:

Virginia Attorney Mark Herring on Friday petitioned the U.S. Supreme Court to hear a case challenging the state’s constitutional amendment that defines marriage as between a man and a woman. “Virginia’s ban, quite simply, denies gay people the equal protection of the law,” he wrote in a 53-page motion. Herring also referenced the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark 1967 decision that struck down Virginia’s interracial marriage ban. “In Loving v. Virginia, the court held that Virginia violated the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses by refusing to allow an interracial couple to marry,” he wrote, noting the justices in subsequent decisions said one’s ability to marry is a fundamental right. “The court has also struck down laws discriminating against gay people, finding no legitimate governmental interest that could support the laws in question.”

Utah and Oklahoma also appealed their cases to the Supremes, skipping the usual 10 judge en-banc panel at the circuit court level.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Virginia.

Colorado Attorney General Sues Boulder Clerk Over Marriage Licenses

Saturday, July 5th, 2014

Boulder County Clerk Hillary HallColorado’s Attorney General is suing Boulder County Clerk Hillary Hall to try to stop her from issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples.

On Top Magazine reports:

Hall began issuing the licenses last week after the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals in Denver upheld a lower court’s ruling striking down Utah’s constitutional amendment limiting marriage to heterosexual unions. The appeals court’s jurisdiction includes Colorado, but the decision was stayed by the court. Hall said the court’s stay only applied to Utah.

According to the AP, the county has issued roughly 100 licenses to gay couples as of Thursday. “While we would prefer not to sue a government official, Ms. Hall’s actions are creating a legal limbo for both the state and the couples whose relationships she wants to champion,” Suthers said in a statement. “That limbo could have tangible and unintended consequences.”

The lawsuit will be heard Wednesday. Funny how when they want to block marriage equality, they can hear the case within days, but when we sue for it, it takes months and months.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Colorado.

Alabama Sodomy Law Not Dead Yet?

Friday, June 20th, 2014

Alabama Attorney General Luther StrangeThe Alabama Sodomy Law may not be entirely dead yet.

Joe.My.God reports:

Last Friday an Alabama appeals court struck down the state’s ban on consensual oral and anal sex. Yesterday Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange indicated that he will seek an appeal of that ruling. In a statement, the attorney general said the office believed the law was unconstitutional as applied to consensual acts. However, he said he was concerned with the impact the decision may have on prosecutions involving non-consensual sex.

It’s the same line AG Ken Cucinelli tried to push to preserve the Virginia sodomy law. He failed.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

USA, Arkansas: Attorney General Supports Marriage Equality But Will Still Defend Ban

Sunday, May 4th, 2014

Arkansas Attorney General Dustin McDanielSurprisingly, AG Dustin McDaniel, who blocked a marriage equality petition several times on technicalities before finally allowing it to move forward, personally supports marriage equality.

Edge Boston reports:

McDaniel, a Democrat serving his final year as the state’s top attorney, became the first statewide official in Arkansas to back same-sex marriage. “I want to tell you I do support marriage equality and I do believe Arkansans should have the right to be equal in the eyes of the law,” said McDaniel, speaking at the Associated Press Managing Editors convention… “I’m going to zealously defend our constitution, but at the same time I think it’s important to let people where I stand on the matter,” McDaniel told the AP after his speech.

McDaniel’s position against the ban is similar to Attorneys General in Oregon, California, and Virginia, but those AGs did not defend their states’ bans. A ruling is expected in the case by this week.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Arkansas.

USA, Oregon: AG Says Marriage Equality Ban Unconstitutional, State Ready to Marry Same Sex Couples

Wednesday, March 19th, 2014

Oregon Attorney General Ellen RosenbkumIn a strongly-worded 35 page brief, Oregon Attorney general Ellen Rosenblum indicated the state is ready for marriage equality.

Edge Boston reports:

Oregon’s attorney general told a federal court Tuesday why she believes the state’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriages violates the federal constitutional rights of homosexual couples. Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum added that Oregon is prepared to implement gay marriages if a federal judge strikes down the ban. Rosenblum announced last month that she would not defend the state’s same-sex marriage ban in court…. Allowing gay and lesbian couples to marry is not a redefinition of marriage, the attorney general wrote. Instead, she said the plaintiffs in this case “seek the same right to marry that the state offers opposite-sex couples and not a right to any newly invented form of marriage.”

Oral arguments in the case are due in mid-April, so we could have a ruling by May…

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Oregon.

USA, Oregon: Attorney General Accepts “Discrimination” Wording for Right to Discriminate Initiative

Saturday, March 15th, 2014

Oregon Gay MarriageOregon Attorney General Ellen Rosenblum agreed with proponents of marriage equality that a proposed ballot initiative that would allow wedding vendors to refuse service to same sex couples should include the word discrimination.

Towleroad.com reports:

Proponents had avoided ballot measure language that mentioned the word ‘discrimination’ in their ‘Protect Religious Freedom Initiative’. Rosenblum disagreed, issuing a ballot title that reads:

“Religious belief” exceptions to anti-discrimination laws for refusing services, other, for same-sex ceremonies, “arrangements”

This was the language sought by opponents of the ballot measure such as Oregon United for Marriage as it “makes clear this measure creates exemptions to non-discrimination laws.”

It seems likely that fewer people will sign a petition that clearly states what the initiative would do. Maybe this thing won’t make the ballot, after all.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Indiana.