Alabama Presbyterians vote for marriage equality
February 12th, 2015
In a rather timely decision, the central Alabama presbytery of the Presbyterian Church (USA) has voted to endorse changes in the church rules that would allow them to conduct same-sex marriages. (AL.com)
The Presbytery of Sheppards and Lapsley, a central Alabama group of churches affiliated with the Presbyterian Church (USA), voted 75-39 Thursday in favor of approving gay marriages.
They became one of about 38 presbyteries nationwide that have voted in favor of gay marriage, with 14 voting against. The change to the 1.8-million-member denomination’s official stance will become official if 86 of the 171 presbyteries vote in favor.
Now the Presbyterian Church is nowhere as dominant in Alabama as the Southern Baptists. But news like this does go a long way to dilute the But God Says! and Attack on Christianity! messages upon which anti-gay Christian rely so heavily.
Ironically, some of the supportive Presbyterians looked a bit askance at the impromptu ceremonies conducted this week.
Webster said he prefers that gay marriage in the church follow a protocol of the couple being members in a church and seeking pre-marital counseling before being married in a sacred ceremony in a church.
“It seemed frivolous and impetuous,” Webster said. “We would have dealt with it more seriously, with church members in the context of a church community. For us, it’s a worship service.”
And perhaps that’s one of the ways in which we know that society is on the road to full acceptance, when levels of establishment feel that you should follow the prescribed order, just like everyone else!
Mobile County Alabama ordered to issue marriage licenses
February 12th, 2015
On Monday, Judge Carrie Grenade’s stay was lifted and marriage equality came to Alabama. But not to all of the state.
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered (apparently on his own imagined authority) and order commanding probate judges to refuse service to same-sex couples. Some probate judges followed Moore’s order and flouted the law, issuing marriage licenses to opposite sex couples but not same sex couples. And some chose to not issue licenses to anyone, citing conflicting orders.
Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis was one who froze all marriage licenses. On Monday, he was sued by same-sex couples in Mobile County who wish to marry.
A federal judge in Mobile on Thursday ordered Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to start granting marriage licenses to gay couples, and he immediately took steps to do just that.
Less clear is whether other probate judges, who are not defendants in either case considered Thursday, would alter their position in the face of a new ruling by Granade. Marshall, the legal director for the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said he believes most probate judges will take their cues from Granade’s new order. For those who continue to resist, he said, same-sex marriage advocates will file new lawsuits naming them as defendants.
This will, undoubtedly, result in most probate judges issuing licenses. But I suspect some will be recalcitrant and fight tooth and toenail.
Alabama Supremes’ response undermines Judge Roy Moore
February 12th, 2015
In an article titled “Alabama Supreme Court punts on request for ‘clarification’ of Roy Moore’s marriage order”, AL.com reports that the Alabama Supreme Court has rejected a request.
The Alabama Supreme Court on Wednesday dismissed a request by Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to clarify Chief Justice Roy Moore’s order instructing probate judges to ignore a federal court ruling allowing same-sex marriage.
And, indeed, they have. The jurists other than Moore (who recused himself) refused to provide any answer as to whether Davis and the other probate judges must follow Judge Grenade’s ruling and provide marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
However, AL.com’s next paragraph seems to contradict their headline.
The justices wrote that they do not have the authority to address the question.
That is not a neutral position. That is not a view that says, “Gee, we don’t know.”
The implications are clear and Davis, along with the other county officials, should be bright enough to see them. If the Alabama State Supreme Court does not have the authority to direct probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, then surely the Chief Justice, acting alone, lacks any prerogative to do so.
Alabama probate judges block 50 “traditional” marriages per day
February 11th, 2015
In 2013 (the last year available) there were 37,789 marriage licenses issued. Which averages to about 150 licenses per business day. All of them “traditional” marriages between a man and a woman.
Currently, about 35% of Alabama residents live in counties in which the probate judges have refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone, gay or straight. So some 50 or so ‘traditional’ marriage licenses are being denied per day.
For the life of me, I don’t see how this benefits anyone.
Alabama Governor not standing in the doorway
February 10th, 2015
Governor Bentley of Alabama opposes marriage equality. However, he too sees comparisons between the behavior of his state today and that of 50 years ago and he has no intention of taking up the mantle of former Alabama Governor George Wallace. (Talking Points Memo)
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.
“I’m trying to move this state forward.”
Understanding the probate judges in Alabama – UPDATED
February 9th, 2015
Same-sex marriages are being conducted today in Alabama. But about half of the state’s counties have probate judges (an elected position which administers marriage licenses) who refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses. They state that neither Alabama law nor any judicial ruling requires that they do so.
They are technically correct.
A very similar situation nearly occurred in Florida. There some county clerks were either uncertain as to their obligations or were playing games. And so Judge Hinkle issued a clarification in which he laid out the difference between the results of a lawsuit and the consequences of a constitutional ruling.
He noted that no clerk who has not been a party to a lawsuit is compelled to act as the result of a ruling. His order did not name them and so failing to act accordingly was not contempt of court.
However, he pointed out that something larger and greater than his ruling did compel them to act: the Constitution of the United States. And those who wanted to continue to act in defiance of the Constitution could be held liable for both the civil and financial consequences of doing so.
At that point, the Florida clerks took his direction and issued marriage licenses irrespective of gender.
Judge Grenade, in Alabama, used Judge Hinkle’s same wording in response to the same question. She noted that it was not her ruling but the Constitution that compelled equality.
But, unlike in Florida, probate judges have decided that (in the words of Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams) they “aren’t worried about following the U.S. Constitution.”
So they are playing the “my name isn’t on that order” game. Being elected politicians in a state that does not value the Equal Protections clause of the Constitution, they are seeking to gain election value by defying the nation’s guiding document. And damn the cost (or inconvenience to them homosexuals)!
Equality advocates have been caught flat-footed. Some have tried to sue for contempt, failing to note that they have to have a ruling in their favor against that particular probate judge. Proper legal procedure is not a terribly difficult process, but it has to be followed.
My presumption is that eventually the correct paperwork will be filed. Federal judges – either Judge Grenade or others – will rule against a few specific probate judges in a few specific counties and slap their wrist with legal fees. And then all the others will fall in line.
Should any probate judge fail to do so, I suspect that they will be hit with very large penalties for defying the authority of the federal judiciary.
It may take a few days or weeks, but it’s a done deal.
Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis has now been sued. This time the proper request appears to have been included:
Plaintiffs hereby respectfully requests [sic] that this Court enter an Emergency Injunction commanding the Defendants to issue the marriage licenses guaranteed by the Constitution as interpreted by this court.
Alabama Gov will not go after judges who follow Fed ruling
February 9th, 2015
Last night, Alabama State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued a pronouncement instructing the state’s probate judges to ignore the Federal Court ruling, the Eleventh Circuit’s response, and the refusal of stay by the Supreme Court of the United States and to instead follow his demands.
After four and a half pages of “whereas” statements, Moore declared the following:
NOW THEREFORE, IT IS ORDERED AND DIRECTED THAT:
To ensure the orderly administration of justice within the State of Alabama, to alleviate a situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the State, and to harmonize the administration of justice between the Alabama judicial branch and the federal courts in Alabama:
Effective immediately, no Probate Judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.
Should any Probate Judge of this state fail to follow the Constitution and statutes of Alabama as stated, it would be the responsibility of the Chief Executive Officer of the State of Alabama, Governor Robert Bentley, in whom the Constitution vests “the supreme executive power of this state,” Art. V, § 113, Ala. Const. 1901, to ensure the execution of the law. “The Governor shall take care that the laws be faithfully executed.” Art. V, § 120, Ala. Const. 1901. “‘If the governor’s “supreme executive power” means anything, it means that when the governor makes a determination that the laws are not being faithfully executed, he can act using the legal means that are at his disposal.'” Tyson v. Jones, 60 So. 3d 831, 850 (Ala. 2010) (quoting Riley v. Cornerstone, 57 So. 3d 704, 733 (Ala. 2010)).
In other words, if you issue marriage license in accordance with the Federal ruling, the Governor’s gunna gitcha. He’s going to, well we’re not sure what, but he’ll gitcha.
And then Moore began posting on his Facebook page encouraging people to call the Governor and request that he go get those law-breaking Federal-court-ruling-followers.
To which Governor Bentley has now responded, “I may be a bigot, but I’m not as bat-poop crazy as that lunatic Roy Moore.” Well, not exactly in those words, of course:
I am disappointed that a single Federal court judge disregarded the vote of the Alabama people to define marriage as between a man and woman. I agree with the dissenting opinion from U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia when they stated, ‘Today’s decision represents yet another example of this Court’s cavalier attitude toward the States. Over the past few months, the Court has repeatedly denied stays of lower court judgments enjoining the enforcement of state laws on questionable constitutional grounds.’ 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.
Poor, poor Pat
February 9th, 2015
Pat Fancher is having a horrible day.
You see, despite her last minute desperate efforts, the state of Alabama has just recognized the marriage between her son David and Dr. Paul Hard.
BREAKING: It's official! Our client Paul Hard has received state recognition of his marriage to deceased husband. pic.twitter.com/9hOpYadJS0
— SPLC (@splcenter) February 9, 2015
And now poor, poor Pat is not going to get the total sum of the settlement for her son’s wrongful death. Instead that immoral homosexual will receive what is legally his share. She’s lost her fight and she’s shown herself to be an evil woman, all for nothing.
February 9th, 2015
dark purple – marriage equality states
light purple – marriage equality in some counties in the state
pink – marriage equality ruling on stay
yellow – federal judge ruled against equality
red – circuit court ruled against equality
Anti-gays anemically protest at Alabama Capitol
February 8th, 2015
There are about 4.9 million people in Alabama. And, in honesty, most of them probably do not support civil and legal equality for gay people.
But they aren’t exactly in an uproar about the fact that same-sex marriages are starting tomorrow morning. (WSFA)
The Sanctity of Marriage Alabama group held a rally on the steps of the Alabama State Capitol Building on Saturday. Group leaders say that nearly 175 individuals showed up to show their support for the group.
Nearly 175 individuals showed up. Wow. More than that showed up at the West Hollywood gym on Tuesday night to play dodgeball. Seriously.
Slovakian voters reject anti-gay referendum
February 8th, 2015
In Slovakia, a group called Alliance for the Family collected over 400,000 signatures, enough to put a referendum on the ballot. The referendum contained three provisions: banning any recognition of same-sex couples (the Slovakian constitution already defines marriage as a man and a woman); barring same-sex couples from adoption; and barring education about sexuality and euthanasia, unless parents agree.
Last week Pope Francis blessed the effort, and the Catholic Church used his image in a media campaign. In this majority Catholic country, this was assumed to be a major advantage.
This vote had connotations other than merely anti-gay attitudes; it was also seen as a rejection of the culture of Western Europe and its values.
For a referendum in Slovakia to be valid, it must not only have a majority of voters, but at least half of those eligible to vote must do so.Opponents of the effort were encouraging voters to stay home, in hopes that the referendum would fail to reach validity.
And now it appears that the opponents of the referendum, along with those who do not reject Western values, those who didn’t care much one way or the other, and those who had no idea that there was a vote, were together enough to cause the effort to fail. Only 21.4% of eligible voters turned up at the polls.
Pat Fancher desperate for rushed ruling
February 6th, 2015
Remember Pat Fancher, the Alabama mother-in-law from Hell whose response to her son’s tragic accident was to sue his husband? Because if the state recognizes her son’s legal Massachusetts marriage, then Pat will lose out on half of the wrongful death settlement.
She’s the lovely soul who filed an amicus brief in the Utah marriage case complaining that “homosexual conduct is immoral”.
Well now she’s desperate.
You see, come Monday – unless SCOTUS intervenes – marriage equality is coming to Alabama. And, if that doesn’t give her terrors enough, Fancher’s son-in-law is prepared to force the state to recognize his legal marriage.
So she’s filed a brief desperately asking a federal court to uphold Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage and give all the glorious beautiful money to her, and not to that immoral homosexual!
Plaintiff Paul Hard has publicly stated that on Monday, February 9, 2015, he intends to take action to amend David Fancher’s death certificate to reflect that at the time of his death Paul Hard was his spouse, which action if successful would greatly upset Defendant Pat Fancher’s status in the matter before this Court. He may also take action to require the executor of David Fancher’s estate to pay to Paul Hard his spousal share of the estate, which would diminish the share to which Defendant Pat Fancher is entitled.
Respectful grief has many stages and love comes in many form. None of which include the behavior of this vile woman.
Montana committee narrowly defeats removal of marriage ban language
February 5th, 2015
In November 2014, federal courts ruled that Montana’s ten year old constitutional ban on same-sex marriage violates the US Constitution. Marriage equality has been in place since.
Montana’s constitutional ban (along with statutory bans) on same-sex marriage remains on the books. Depending on how the Supreme Court rules in June, it is possible (though unlikely) that the marriage ban could be reinstated.
However, some Montana legislators decided to preempt the Supreme Court, and remove the ban from the civil code. This likely has no legal impact on the state constitution, but could serve as a symbolic gesture of support for equality.
House Bill 282 was authored by Bryce Bennett (D – Missoula) and today the Judiciary Committee voted on whether to bring it to the full floor. By a tied vote of ten to ten, the Judiciary Committee tabled the bill. It will not go to the full house at this time.
I do not yet have the vote breakdown. However, there were six Democrats on the Judiciary Committee and fourteen Republicans, which indicates that there was significant bipartisan support.
300 marriages recognized by Michigan
February 4th, 2015
In March of last year, Federal Judge Bernard Friedman found that the State of Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage violated the US Constitution. And couples rushed to marry.
The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals issued a stay on the ruling a few days later. And in November that court overturned the ruling by Judge Friedman, in a decision that differed from all other circuit courts which had ruled on the subject. The decision of the Sixth Circuit will be considered by the Supreme Court this Spring.
But what of the couples who married?
Governor Rick Snyder (R) tried to stake out a middle ground in his response. He recognized that the marriages were legal when performed, which allowed the couples to be recognized by the Federal Government. However, he argued that state laws disallowed recognition of those legal marriages by the state of Michigan.
Last month U.S. District Judge Mark Goldsmith found that the state had the obligation to recognize those more than 300 marriages on the same terms as any other marriage. He stayed his ruling for three weeks for the state to appeal to the Sixth Circuit, should they choose.
Today, Governor Snyder announced that his administration would not appeal that decision. (abc)
“The judge has determined that same-sex couples were legally married on that day, and we will follow the law and extend state marriage benefits to those couples,” Snyder said in a statement.
Eighth Circuit expedites marriage cases
February 3rd, 2015
The Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has agreed to combine the marriage ban cases from Arkansas, Missouri, and South Dakota. The court will also expedite the case, with the first round of briefs due on February 27, 2015. Oral arguments will be heard during the week of May 11-15, 2015 in Omaha, NE.