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Alabama in Turmoil After Marriage Equality Comes to State

Monday, February 9th, 2015

As the US Supreme Court declined to extend the stay on a Federal Judge’s ruling and as same sex couples started to marry in the state, opponents of marriage equality dug in their heels.

Things started off well enough, with many counties issuing licenses.

Joe.My.God reports:

According to local media it appears that the majority of Alabama’s 67 counties are issuing or prepared to issue same-sex marriage licenses. At this writing fewer than a dozen counties have confirmed that they are defying this morning’s order by the Supreme Court. Probate judges in several counties decided not to issue any marriage licenses at all – to same-sex or heterosexual couples. In some counties, including Butler County, Colbert County and Coosa County probate courts are taking marriage applications from all couples but not issuing licenses. In Coffee County, Jefferson County, Chilton County and Madison County, probate judges said they will issue marriage licenses to all couples, gay and straight, on Monday morning. Probate judges in other counties chose to follow the order issued late Sunday by Chief Justice Moore. Probate judges in Bibb County, Covington County, Cleburne County and Washington County decided not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday, but will still issue licenses to opposite-sex couples.

As the day wore on, more and more counties jumped on the anti-gay discrimination bandwagon.

Joe.My.God reports:

At the start of the day fewer than a dozen of Alabama’s 67 counties had been confirmed as refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. It appears that number has now about tripled. Most of the counties contacted by AL.com this morning have suspended issuing all marriage licenses in the wake of conflicting rulings from a federal judge and the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The majority of counties across the state have either suspended the issuance of all marriage licenses or are only accepting applications. Probate judges have said it is the best compromise for the moment, until they determine which order to follow. Other probate judges have said that they may change their policies within hours or days. Counties colored red are not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those colored green are issuing licenses to all couples. Those shaded in yellow are not issuing any marriage licenses and those colored orange are only accepting applications, but issuing no licenses.

Alabama Map

The Governor was no help.

Towleroad reports:

“This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama. Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue. We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.”

And the Attorney General took up the Chief Justice’s contention that probate judges could turn away same sex couples.

On Top Magazine reports:

In responding to a decision by the Supreme Court not to stay two federal judge’s rulings striking down Alabama’s ban on gay marriage, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange suggested that probate judges do not have to issue marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Strange had asked the Supreme Court to delay Monday’s scheduled implementation of the rulings. In a 7-2 decision, the court denied Strange’s request.

The Human Rights Campaign called for the impeachment of Chief Justice Moore over his refusal to follow the federal court judgment.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Human Rights Campaign has launched a petition to remove Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore from office. Moore urged the governor of Alabama and probate judges, who issue licenses in the state, to stand in the way of same-sex marriages despite an explicit order by a federal judge. The HRC petition calls on the Judicial Inquiry Commission to take action against Moore — who previously declared that homosexuality should be a punishable offense and grounds for losing parental custody — for shirking the law and the obligations of his office.

One of the plaintiff couples filed a contempt motion against the Mobile County probate judge for refusing to issue licenses.

Equality on Trial reports:

Mobile County, Alabama, is stalling in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The county has said there are some delays, and they’re not issuing licenses until those are worked out. They aren’t even opening the marriage license division. Attorneys for the couple who filed Searcy v. Strange have just filed a contempt motion requesting “an Order declaring the Honorable Don Davis to be in contempt, to further order law enforcement to open the marriage license division of Mobile County Probate Court, impose sanctions against the Honorable Don Davis, and any such further legal remedies this Court deems appropriate and just, the premises considered.”

The motion was promptly swatted down by a federal judge.

Joe.My.God reports:

“Probate Judge Don Davis is not a party in this case and the Order of January 23, 2015, did not directly order Davis to do anything. Judge Davis’s obligation to follow the Constitution does not arise from this court’s Order. The Clarification Order noted that actions against Judge Davis or others who fail to follow the Constitution could be initiated by persons who are harmed by their failure to follow the law. However, no such action is before the Court at this time.”

The couple responded with an amended complaint against pretty much everyone in Mobile County government.

Joe.My.God reports:

Mobile lawsuit

The Supreme Court’s decision to not extend the stay reinforces the trend they started in Florida.

USA Today reports:

The Supreme Court will decide whether to allow same-sex marriage nationwide later this year. But it’s leaving little doubt which way it’s leaning. The latest evidence came Monday, when the high court denied Alabama’s request that gay marriages be blocked while the state appeals a federal judge’s ruling that allowed gays and lesbians to wed. That was the same decision the justices reached in Florida two months ago, allowing the Sunshine State to become the 36th in the nation where same-sex marriage is legal. Alabama now becomes the 37th.

In one bit of excellent news, Paul Hard, a gay man who has been embroiled in a legal fight against his deceased husband’s mother as she tries to steal her son’s estate won the latest round.

Towleroad reports:

The state of Alabama has issued Hard a new death certificate for Fancher, this time listing Fancher as his husband. Said Hard, “Getting David’s death certificate was emotional. Just to finally see the wording on there that at the time of his death he was married, and he was married to me, corrects a hurtful wrong.”

This will make it much harder for the evil mother-in-law to get her hands on her son’s estate.

We’ll leave you with this cartoon, which draws a great parallel between the hateful men blocking the door to marriage equality and their counterparts in an earlier era.

Cartoon Birmingham News

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Alabama.

Judges Are Ready for Marriage Equality – Are the People?

Saturday, May 17th, 2014

titleThis has been a big, historic week for gay marriage in America. On Saturday, Arkansas issued its first same-sex marriage licenses following a ruling that overturned the state’s ban. On Tuesday, an Idaho judge struck down the state’s constitutional prohibition against gay unions; the first wedding ceremonies will take place today. And on Wednesday, a federal appeals court heard oral arguments in Bostic v. Schaefer, the highly anticipated challenge to the same-sex-marriage prohibition in Virginia.

The important theme here is that the rapid expansion of gay marriage is being led almost exclusively by judges. Although there were three upheld court rulings in favor of gay unions before summer of 2013, most of the states that allowed gay marriage before the Supreme Court’s decision in United States v. Windsor got there with legislation or ballot initiatives. Since Windsor, which struck down the federal ban on gay marriage under the Defense of Marriage Act, there have been nine rulings expanding the definition of marriage. Almost every state where same-sex unions remain illegal now faces a court challenge.

It’s not a coincidence that the most liberal, pro-gay areas of the country were the first to embrace legal same-sex unions at the ballot box or the statehouse. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo and state senators in Vermont could afford to cheerlead for marriage equality; their constituents agreed with them. In these areas of the country, people’s beliefs eased the way for social change.

Authored By Emma Green – See the Full Story at The Atlantic

Find more marriage equality articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, Oklahoma/Utah: Tenth Circuit Panel Announced for Marriage Equality Cases

Monday, March 31st, 2014

Tenth CircuitThe judges who will hear the two marriage equality cases about to come before the tenth circuit were announced today.

Equality on Trial reports:

The Tenth Circuit has announced the three-judge panel that will hear oral arguments in Kitchen v. Herbert, the challenge to Utah’s same-sex marriage ban. The three judges will be Judge Paul J. Kelly, Jr., an appointee of President George H. W. Bush, along with Judge Carlos F. Lucero, appointed by President Bill Clinton, and Judge Jerome A. Holmes, appointed by President George W. Bush. The Tenth Circuit has previously said that the Utah case and the Oklahoma case, Bishop v. Smith, will be heard by the same panel, though the judge’s names aren’t listed on the case page for the Oklahoma case as of this writing.

Apparently the judges have a bit of a conservative bent.

The Salt Lake Tribune reports:

“My sense is this panel is slightly more politically conservative than an average 10th Circuit panel, but how any specific judge will resolve this issue is unclear and may not reflect political views,” said Carl Tobias, a law professor at the University of Richmond School of Law and a judicial appointment expert.

The Utah case will be heard on April 10th; the Oklahoma case on April 17th. Anyone wanna lay odds on which of the many cases makes it to the Supreme Court?

Find more articles and gay wedding resources.

USA, New Mexico: Two Judges Quit Officiating Weddings to Protest Marriage Equality

Friday, February 21st, 2014

New Mexico MapTwo judges in Southeastern New Mexico have announced that they will no longer officiate any weddings to avoid having to marry same sex couples.

KRWG reports:

Judges in two southeastern New Mexico counties say they will no longer officiate weddings after the state’s high court ruled in favor of marriage equality. The Carlsbad Current-Argus reports that judges in Eddy and Chaves Counties recently announced they won’t officiate civil marriage ceremonies for straight or same-sex couples. In December, the New Mexico Supreme Court decided it was unconstitutional to deny marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. Officials in both counties say the decision was made a few months ago.

It’s the kind of tantrum that any 5 year old child would be proud of. If I can’t have it my way, I won’t do it at all! Judges in the state are not required to officiate at weddings, but county clerks must issue licenses to same sex couples.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in New Mexico.

Washington, USA: Marriage Equality Law Unclear on Judges’ Obligation to Perform Gay Weddings

Monday, January 21st, 2013

Seattle, WashingtonWashington’s amended marriage law exempts pastors, rabbis, Imams and other clergy from having to perform same-sex weddings if they aren’t so moved.

But for judges, justices and some court commissioners, who are also authorized to marry people in this state, the law is much less clear.

Weeks after same-sex marriage became legal in Washington, questions are being raised over what obligations — if any — judges have to marry gay couples when doing so assails their own religious or other personal beliefs.

Authored By Lornet Turnbull – See the Full Story at the Seattle Times

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Washington State.

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Washington, USA: Judges to Donate Time to Marry Gay/Lesbian Couples

Friday, November 16th, 2012

Seattle City Hall will open for a special event on the Sunday following a new law taking effect, which will allow same-sex couples to marry in the state of Washington.

Mayor Mike McGinn, said through spokesperson, Aaron Pickus, that eight municipal judges will donate their time on Sunday 9 December, three days after Referendum 74 becomes active, allowing equal marriage in the state, reports the Associated Press.

The judges will be available between 12-5pm on Sunday 9 December, the first day it is possible for couples to have their marriage licenses signed, despite being allowed to collect them from 6 December.

Authored By Joseph Patrick McCormick – See the Full Story at Pink News

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Washington State.

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NOM’s Pledge Promises No Judges Who Support Marriage Equality

Monday, August 8th, 2011

While he may have been silent during the entire debt-ceiling debacle, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney has been very vocal about his support of a federal constitutional amendment banning gay marriage. Romney took that support even further and signed a pledge sponsored by the National Organization for Marriage promising future support.

At first blush such an act may seem purely symbolic. But the pledge pushed by NOM goes much further than simply promising to push amending the Constitution. It includes a promise to establish a presidential commission on “religious liberty” whose sole purpose is to investigate alleged harassment of opponents of same-sex marriage and to nominate federal judges who “reject the idea that our Founding Fathers inserted a right to gay marriage into our Constitution.”

Other Republican candidates including Rick Santorum and Michele Bachmann signed the pledge as well. Tim Pawlenty refused the pledge, preferring to express his “commitment to the institution of marriage” in his own words.

Full Story from Care2

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IA: Republicans to Call Out Anti Gay Vander Plaats

Thursday, March 24th, 2011

Iowa Marriage EqualityTwo Republicans intend to publicly call for anti-gay-marriage activist Bob Vander Plaats to “answer questions about his campaign to politicize Iowa’s judicial system,” according to a news release.

Dan Moore, former advisor for Vander Plaats’ campaign for governor, and former Lt. Gov. Joy Corning will hold a news conference in Des Moines on Thursday.

Vander Plaats will be in town as part of the Family Leader’s 99-county tour he has said will “build on the momentum created by pro-family victories last November.” The Family Leader is a socially conservative group that advocates that marriage should be limited to one woman and one man.

Full Story from The Des Moines Register

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Newt Gingrich Secretly Funneled Money to Oust Iowa Judges

Thursday, March 17th, 2011

Newt GingrichLast year, former Speaker Newt Gingrich offered his vocal support for the ultimately successful campaign to oust three of the nine Iowa Supreme Court justices who had unanimously ruled in favor of marriage equality. As Gingrich courts social conservativeswhile exploring a possible presidential bid, new disclosures from his camp indicate that he and his associates bankrolled more than one-third of the $850,000 campaign to remove the Iowa justices.

ThinkProgress previously reported on $200,000 that Gingrich funneled from an anonymous donor to the anti-marriage equality group Iowa for Freedom, which was also being funded by AFA Action, the political arm of the virulently anti-gay American Family Association.

The Associated Press revealed yesterday that one of the cogs in Gingrich’s vast network of business enterprises and front groups, ReAL Action, provided $125,000 to AFA Action. The Des Moines Register reported this morning that ReAL Action also contributed $25,000 to yet another Iowa anti-LGBT group, the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition.

Full Story from Care2

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To subscribe to this blog, use the rss feed on the right, or use the form at right to join our email list. You can also email us at info@purpleunions.com. Or find us on Facebook – just search for Gay Marriage Watch (you’ll see our b/w wedding pic overlooking the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge in SF). We’re also tweeting daily at http://www.twitter.com/gaymarriagewatc.

IA: Vander Plaats, Moore Debate Move to Remove Remaining Supreme Court Judges

Friday, March 11th, 2011

Iowa’s embattled judicial system remains the center of attention for several groups statewide.

In response to an ongoing campaign by the Iowa Family Leader, Sioux City attorney Dan Moore is questioning former Governor Candidate Bob Vander Plaats about the campaign against Iowa’s judges. Moore is Vander Plaats’ former campaign secretary and treasurer but says the mission to remove the remaining four judges injects unneeded politics into the court system.

“I don’t think it’s a Republican issue, I don’t think it’s a Democrat issue, unfortunately it’s becoming a same-sex marriage issue and the results don’t change the law. I mean voting the three justices off the Supreme Court did not change the Varnum case and going after the remaining four will not change the law,” says Sioux City attorney Dan Moore.

Full Story from Fox 44

Click here for gay marriage resources in Iowa.

To subscribe to this blog, use the rss feed on the right, or use the form at right to join our email list. You can also email us at info@purpleunions.com. Or find us on Facebook – just search for Gay Marriage Watch (you’ll see our b/w wedding pic overlooking the Ferry Building and Bay Bridge in SF). We’re also tweeting daily at http://www.twitter.com/gaymarriagewatc.