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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, June 10, 2016 - Volume 44 Issue 24
Federal judge forbids Alabama from enforcing marriage ban
Section One
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Federal judge forbids Alabama from enforcing marriage ban

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

US District Judge Callie Granade, who struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage back in January 2015, has issued a new injunction forbidding the state from enforcing its old laws limiting marriage to opposite-sex couples.

In her June 8 ruling, Granade specifically cited now-deposed Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his instruction to state probate judges that Alabama law against same-sex marriages remains in force.

'The failure of the Alabama Supreme Court to set aside its earlier mandamus order [to continue enforcing the old marriage laws] and its willingness to uphold that order in the face of the United States Supreme Court's ruling in Obergefell demonstrate the need for a permanent injunction in this case,' Granade wrote.

'It is clear that the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell does not provide certainty that the alleged violations will not recur.'

As long as the so-called Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain on the books, Granade said, there will continue to be a 'live controversy' and potential need for a federal court to step in to protect same-sex couples who wish to marry.

In May, Moore was suspended from his post because of an ethics complaint filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), based on his refusal to apply the US Supreme Court's Obergefell decision.

Even if Moore is permanently removed, Granade said, two other Alabama Supreme Court justices have said they believe state law barring same-sex marriages is still enforceable.

'Justice [Michael] Bolin and Justice [Tom] Parker also stated that the order dismissing the mandamus petitions [this year] was not a 'decision on the merits,' indicating that the mandamus order finding Alabama's marriage statutes constitutional was still in effect,' she wrote.

The state attorney general has also 'defended this case with vigor from the outset and the challenged statutes remain on the books,' Granade added.

While the attorney general has an injunction against him in another marriage case, that same injunction does not apply to the probate judges who were ordered by Moore to continue enforcing the old law. Consequently, Granade said, it was time to order the state once and for all to stop preventing same-sex marriages.

'This judgment makes permanent what most people have known all along - Alabama state officials must abide by the US Supreme Court's ruling that legalized same-sex marriage,' SPLC attorney McCoy said in a June 8 statement.

'State officials may not refuse to recognize the legal right of a same-sex couple to marry. This is the law of the land despite Roy Moore's or the Alabama Supreme Court's personal beliefs to the contrary.'

Shannon P. Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, hailed Granade's new ruling.

'Today's ruling establishes clearly and finally that all state officials in Alabama must respect same-sex couples' freedom to marry,' he said.

'It is unfortunate that some state officials, including members of the state judiciary, continued to question their obligations even after the Supreme Court's marriage equality decision last year. Today's ruling should put any confusion to rest.'

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