Bill to stop issuing marriage licenses advances in Alabama

AlabamaOutlineA state senate committee advanced a bill that would stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses in Alabama.

According to Associated Press, several probate judges have already stopped issuing licenses to all couples so that they’re not providing those licenses to same-sex couples. Gay and straight couples in those areas must now go to different counties to get licenses to marry. The state senate bill would end the practice of issuing marriage licenses. Instead, couples would go to the same probate judge and sign a marriage contract.

What isn’t clear is why issuing a marriage license in some way supports same-sex marriage and filing a contract signed by a same-sex couple doesn’t support same-sex marriage. Also not clear is whether the federal government would recognize these marriage contracts rather than marriage licenses. Normally a person needs to show a marriage license to have a name changed on a social security card or to file joint federal income taxes. And if issuing marriage licenses is one of the duties of a probate judge in Alabama,  just why is the state allowing some of them to not do their jobs?

Oklahoma is also debating a bill that would stop county clerks from issuing marriage licenses.

—  David Taffet

Marriage equality leads to new marriage equality rulings

PaulDavid5

Charles David Fancher, left, and Paul Hard. (Photo from Association of LGBT Issues in Counseling in Alabama)

Paul Hard filed one of the Alabama marriage equality lawsuits to force the state to recognize his marriage to Charles David Fancher. That case has now been resolved, according to Alabama Media Group.

Residents of Montgomery, Ala., Hard and Fancher were married in Massachusetts in 2011. Three months later, Fancher was killed in a car accident. Hard sued to get Alabama to recognize his marriage so he could pursue a wrongful death lawsuit.

The family opposing Hard was represented by the Foundation for Moral Law headed by Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore. Moore ordered Alabama county officials not to issue marriage licenses after the U.S. Supreme Court lifted a stay on a lower court ruling that declared the state’s marriage law unconstitutional. That put marriage on hold in the state until the final marriage equality ruling.

The Foundation for Moral Law argued Hard’s marriage should not be recognized retroactively and even if it was, Hard is not entitled to money that was awarded in the case and being held in escrow because the couple was only married three months.

The judge in the Hard case ruled his marriage must be recognized retroactively and is entitled to the full spouse’s share. Nowhere in case law has a marriage been considered less valid because a couple was only married a few months.

The judge was asked to stay his ruling but he refused.

—  David Taffet

Alabama hasn’t been happy this week

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

Alabama hasn’t been happy this week and its Supreme Court chief justice seems to think U.S. Supreme court rulings can be appealed. They can’t. Or don’t apply to him. They do.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, the judge that declared Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, issued an order today directing all Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order requires immediate compliance.

A violation of Granade’s order could result in a county probate judge being held liable for contempt of court, attorneys’ fees, financial penalties and any other remedies the court deems proper.

In today’s order, Judge Granade stated:

Although most of Alabama’s county probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some are not. The National Center for Lesbian Rights. ACLU of Alabama, Southern Poverty Law Center and Americans United who represented plaintiffs in the original case asked the judge to confirm that her order is now in effect.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING (sorta): Alabama Supreme Court has lost its mind

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

The Alabama Supreme Court today (Monday, June 29) ordered all probate judges in the state to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately — even though the highest court in the land ruled three days ago that same-sex couples do have a constitutional right to legal marriage and that bans on same-sex marriage have been struck down, according to NewCivilRightsMovement.com.

The Alabama court’s reasoning is that parts of SCOTUS’ ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges are subject to appeal. To whom they plan to appeal wasn’t clear.

According to AL.com, Chief Justice Roy Moore initially said that the state court’s order prohibits probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but later backtracked to say he only meant they don’t have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Moore said that parties have 25 days in which to contest the U.S. Supreme Court ruling before it becomes a mandate, and that “In that 25-day period that [U.S. Supreme Court] order is not in effect. The [Alabama Supreme Court] order speaks for itself.”

Shannon Minter, an attorney with the National Center for Lesbian Rights who was involved in one of the lawsuits challenging Alabama’s marriage equality ban, said the Alabama Supreme Court’s order “has no practical effect. U.S. District Court Judge [Ginny] Granade [who struck down the marriage ban in two separate cases] already ordered Alabama’s probate judges to stop enforcing the marriage ban as soon as the Supreme Court rule, and that is binding immediately.”

NewCivilRightsMovement.com posted a Tweet from Human Rights Campaign President Chad Griffin saying probate judges should not stop issuing licenses. HRC’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said, “There is no justification for delaying or obstructing the clear message of the Supreme Court of the  United States — marriage equality must begin in Alabama, and probate judges who stand in the way of that legal imperative risk exposing themselves to legal consequences. There is zero chance of marriage equality being reheard by the Supreme Court … .”

Alabama ACLU head Susan Watson called the Alabama Supreme Court’s order “a stalling tactic” and also warned that judges that refuse to issue the licenses could face sanctions. And Jefferson County Probate Judge Sheri Friday told AL.com, “I am not real clear what it’s saying .. it’s very unclear,” and that she is continuing to issue licenses.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Senate OKs bill scrapping marriage completely

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Ever heard the expression “Cutting off your nose to spite your face”? That’s exactly what Alabama legislators are doing when it comes to the issue of marriage equality.

The Alabama Senate passed, on a 22-3 vote, SB 377 that eliminates marriage licenses all together in the state, instead requiring folks who might previously have gone to a probate judge to get a marriage license to enter into a contract basically stating they would have gotten a marriage license if they could have and then file that contract with the probate judge.

Attorney Jake Watson explained to WHNT 19 News: “[SB377] really does away with the traditional sense of a marriage certificate and what we’ve been dealing with in Alabama as far as marriage certificates for more than a hundred years, I believe.”

The problem, Watson added, is that SB 377 creates all kinds of confusion for those who rely on marriage to prove the connection between to the federal government, insurance companies and anyone else that might require them to be legally married. And, he said, it would put up another barrier for same-sex marriage.

“A statement that the parties are legally authorized to be married, that’s going to be the catch. What is legally authorized to be married? Under the State of Alabama Law, that would not include same-sex marriage,” he said.

SB 377 is, of course, Alabama’s way of saying, once again, “can’t make me! Nyahh, nyahh, nyahh” to the federal government, in the shadow of a looming U.S. Supreme Court decision that is expected to legalize same-sex marriage nationwide later this month. It is Alabama Legislature’s way of crawling along in the footsteps of right-wing-nut state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who ignored federal trial court rulings upholding marriage equality by Judge Callie Granade in his own state, who got the Alabama Supreme Court to follow along and has since pledged to fight equality to the bitter end.

SB 377 is making its way through the Alabama House right now. You can read the full text of the bill here.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama probate judges ordered to issue marriage licenses once the Supreme Court rules

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

A federal district judge ordered all probate judges to comply with the U.S. Cconstitution and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — but the order doesn’t go into effect until after the U.S. Supreme Court rules on marriage equality cases it heard in April.

The judge ruled after four civil rights organizations asked the judge to expand her earlier ruling.

Most Alabama probate judges started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in February after U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade declared an Alabama law and an Alabama constitutional provision banning same-sex marriages unconstitutional. The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the U.S. Supreme Court then declined to stay Granade’s ruling.

On March 3, the Alabama Supreme Court halted same-sex marriages throughout the state by ordering probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Granade’s latest order overrides the Alabama Supreme Court’s order.

The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center jointly filed the motion March 6 asking Granade to expand her ruling to apply to all same-sex couples and all probate judges throughout the state.
 The original order only applied to Mobile County.

The district court’s order will take effect when the United States Supreme Court issues its decision in several pending cases seeking the freedom to marry in four states.

 

—  David Taffet

Caleb Moore, son Alabama’s Chief Homophobe, blames drug arrest on vengeful liberals

Caleb Moore

Caleb Moore

Caleb Moore — the 24-year-old son of Alabama’s Chief Homophobe, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore — was arrested Sunday, March 15, and charged with possession of a controlled substance and possession of marijuana. But Caleb swears he is innocent and blamed the whole thing on those nasty liberals who are out to get his dad, according to AL.com.

Roy Moore is the one who declared that Alabama doesn’t have legally acknowledge same-sex marriages, no matter what the federal courts — including the U.S. Supreme Court — say. Despite federal court rulings, Roy Moore told Alabama county probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and later led the state Supreme Court in ordering the probate judges not to abide by the federal court rulings.

Caleb Moore was arrested in Troy, Ala., after officers responding to a report of a break-in found him and some friends standing nearby, close to a pickup truck that reeked of pot. When they searched the truck, the officers found a bag containing marijuana and some Xanax pills in the glove compartment, along with Caleb’s passport. So they arrested him and took him to jail. He was later released on $8,500 bond.

But Caleb Moore has denied any wrongdoing, taking to Facebook on Monday to defend his honor and point out the real criminals with this post: “This is nothing more than a prime example of how media and crooked police officers and critics of my dad try to not only destroy his career for what he stands for but will go as far as trying to destroy his family. I am not a drug user as the drug test taken today will show. As for the malicious possession charges, justice will be served.”

Caleb Moore didn’t say Monday, March 16, whether his guilty plea to drug-related charges in St. Clair County in 2013, and his 2011 arrest in Crenshaw County for drug possession and driving under the influence were also the fault of vengeful liberals.

In an article posted Wednesday, March 18, on AL.com, Caleb Moore’s lawyer, Richard Jaffe, said that his client’s comments about crooked cops was just a product of his frustration and he really didn’t mean it. Jaffe also noted that Caleb Moore was one of five young men arrested on drug charges related to the Sunday incident. All of them have denied knowing there were any drugs in the truck.

Jaffe pointed out that Caleb Moore took a drug test the day he was arrested and that he passed that test.

AL.com’s Wednesday story notes that this was just the latest in a string of arrests for Caleb Moore, although he has apparently never served any jail time. Read about the previous arrests here.

Caleb Moore has acknowledged that he has had a troubled past and that he has struggled with drugs and drinking. But he says he is much more mature now (compared to March 2014, a month in which he was arrested twice in separate incidents related to possession and DUI) and that he now has “a closer walk with the Lord.” He said he never did anything more than most college students, but that his indiscretions were blown way out of proportion because of who his father is.

Caleb Moore attends Troy University and works for The Foundation for Moral Law, an organization founded by his father and of which his mother is president.

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama Supreme Court defies federal courts, orders judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

The Alabama Supreme Court late today (Tuesday, March 3) ordered all of the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, in defiance of orders from a federal district court judge overturning the Alabama same-sex marriage ban, and a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court refusing to block the district judge’s order.

The Alabama Supreme Court is headed up by right-wing Chief Jerk… uh, Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has fought marriage equality tooth and nail. He has told probate judges they didn’t have to follow the federal court rulings, and last month told Fox News he has a moral responsibility to defy the U.S. Supreme Court if the court violates “God’s organic law” by ruling in favor of marriage equality.

The state’s highest court said Alabama wasn’t bound by this “new definition” of marriage, though marriage equality has “gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country,” including the federal judiciary.

The supreme court’s ruling said: “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

The court also said, “ … state courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts.”

Probate judges have five days to respond to the order.

Lawyers who represented same-sex couples seeking the right to marry in Alabama decried the ruling.

Shannon Minter with the National Center for Lesbian Rights, one of the organizations representing same-sex couples fighting for marriage equality in Alabama, called the ruling “deeply unfortunate” that “the Alabama Supreme Court is determined to be on the wrong side of history.”

—  Tammye Nash

Alabama GOP chair thinks God is really pissed

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

The chair of Alabama’s Republican Party thinks God is pissed because same-sex couples can marry in his state.

“The state of Alabama and the United States of America will reap God’s wrath if we embrace and condone things that are abhorrent to God, such as redefining marriage as anything other than a union between one man and one woman,” Alabama Republican Party Chair Bill Armistead wrote this week.

Meanwhile, elsewhere in Alabama:

A police officer in Madison, Ala., was arrested on Thursday, Feb. 12, for badly injuring an Indian man who doesn’t speak English who was walking around the neighborhood. He was visiting his son who lives there.

A 74-year-old child abuser was arrested in Alabama this week after being on the run for 30 years.

A Klan group is rallying the troops against those pesky new rights that began to be offered in Alabama. The state’s Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore must be very proud to have such reputable backers.

A teacher at Bob Jones High School in Madison, Ala., was placed on leave this week while Homeland Security investigates him and a DeKalb County, Ala., woman was indicted for torture and willful abuse of a 4-month-old child.

But God is pissed about same-sex couples getting married in Alabama. Interesting.

—  David Taffet

BREAKING UPDATE: Federal judge rules Alabama must issue marriage licenses

AlabamaOutlineFederal District Judge Callie V. S. Granade ordered probate judge Don Davis today, Thursday, Feb. 12, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in compliance with her earlier ruling.

“Judge Davis may not deny them a license on the ground that Plaintiffs constitute same-sex couples or because it is prohibited by the sanctity of marriage,” Judge Callie V. S. Granade of Federal District Court wrote in her decision, referring to same-sex couples.

The decision was directed to Mr. Davis but was also meant to send a larger message to probate judges who have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples following the orders of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

—  James Russell