Saturday, February 14, 2015

191.2 - Good News: same-sex marriage comes to Alabama, mostly

Good News: same-sex marriage comes to Alabama, mostly

Updated. Updated again. On Friday, Jan 23, District Judge Callie Granade ruled that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage violated both the equal Protection and Due Process guarantees of the US Constitution. She initially refused to stay her order banning enforcement of the state's prohibition but two days later changed her mind and issued a 14-day stay to allow time for an appeal.

On February 3, the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals declined to extend the stay, as did the Supreme Court on February 9. So on that same day, the stay expired, making Alabama the 37th state with same-sex marriage.

However, a snag has arisen in the form of Roy Moore, the chief justice of the Alabama state Supreme Court. He used a legal loophole - which may or may not exist, depending on who you ask - to claim that since the District Court order was addressed to the governor and the attorney general of Alabama and not specifically to the probate judges who issue marriage licenses, those judges were not bound by the order and could refuse to issue such licenses. In fact, he ordered them to refuse, leaving those judges in the position of having to individually decide if they were going to follow the order of the man to who they supposedly report or that of the clear meaning of the order of the federal court.

The result was a mixed bag, with only a minority of Alabama counties - about 8 out of 67, representing 40% of the state's population - issuing marriage licenses by the afternoon of the 9th.

While doubtless heartbreaking for those who have had to wait so long, it's important to recognize that this is nothing more than a last-ditch attempt by the bigots to find some straw to hang onto in order to continue their bigotry. In point of fact, a lot of people think the Supreme Court gave the game away when it refused to stay Judge Granade's order.

The biggest clue there was the dissent from that decision filed by Justice Clarabell Thomas, joined by all-time scumbag Justice Antonin Skeletor. Toward the end of his dissent, Thomas wrote that the Court’s decision to allow same-sex marriages to begin in Alabama, even as a marriage equality case is pending before the Supreme Court, “may well be seen as a signal of the Court’s intended resolution of that question,” which many take as a strong hint that Thomas believes (or even knows) that there are five votes to extend equal marriage rights to same-sex couples - so bars to that equal right will be struck down not only in Alabama but nationwide sometime in the next few months.

As a sidebar, Roy Moore is a right-wing reactionary jackass but he's not stupid. He knows what he's doing is a losing cause, he has to know. But he's also an elected official, yes he is, and lots of folks figure he's doing this more because it will look good in the hinterlands during the next campaign rather than out of any real sense of legal niceties.

Anyway, as a footnote to all that, we have another sign of progress on this front: At the recent right-wing self-congratulatory vote for me confab, the Iowa Freedom Summit, the formerly hot-button topic of same-sex marriage was barely mentioned. It's like they are trying to forget they ever brought it up.

Updated. By the end of the week, at least 42 counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples even as at least eight of the probate judges intend to continue to refuse until they are ordered to do so personally by a federal judge or until SCOTUS issues its ruling.

Updated again. The Alabama Supreme Court late on Friday. February 13, agreed to consider a petition by two groups seeking a halt to the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses by state probate judges. That's right, Roy Moore's court. Gee, I wonder what they'll say.

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