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Same-sex couple seeking marriage license in Alabama wins federal case

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

UPDATE: State officials have asked the Eleventh Circuit for a stay pending appeal in this case as well.

UPDATE 2: Roy Moore, the chief justice of Alabama’s supreme court wrote a letter to Governor Robert Bentley, saying that Moore will ignore federal Constitutional decisions striking down same-sex marriage bans and urging the governor to do the same.
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Following last week’s decision by a federal district court judge, a same-sex couple in Alabama has just won the right to marry in the state.

The same district court judge issued the opinion, which strikes the ban on licensing same-sex marriage using the same reasoning as the judge’s prior opinion:

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade, who on Friday declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, ruled on Monday in favor of James Strawser and John Humphrey in a separate case. The Alabama Attorney General’s Office immediately vowed to appeal.

Humphrey, 38, said he did not have the highest level of confidence when he and Strawser filed the federal lawsuit in September. Alabama is a conservative state, he noted, and the couple did not even have a lawyer.

“I am just ecstatically pleased. We didn’t realize it would be so soon and did not even think she would consider it,” Humphrey said. “This is the Bible Belt for Christ sake.”

There is a temporary stay, set for the same date as the one in the Searcy case, February 9.

The state has already appealed the decision just as it did in Searcy. (The notice of appeal is here.)

The decision is here.

1:14-cv-00424 #29 – Order by Equality Case Files

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings

33 Comments

  • 1. Rick55845  |  January 27, 2015 at 9:15 am

    Let the good times roll! (As soon as the 11th and probably SCOTUS deny any requests for a stay by the State pending resolution…)

  • 2. RnL2008  |  January 27, 2015 at 9:38 am

    Awesome………wonder what the AG's gonna try this time?

  • 3. davepCA  |  January 27, 2015 at 9:44 am

    Excellent! And I do like that final "DONE and ORDERED"!

  • 4. guitaristbl  |  January 27, 2015 at 11:49 am

    So even if the first ruling was ambigious about its scope, this one hits the last nail on the coffin. Good news !

    And let Roy Moore whine as much as he wants :
    http://www.lgbtqnation.com/2015/01/alabama-chief-

    What a disgrace for the judiciary…How can a gay man seek any kind of justice on any issue before the Alabama Supreme Court ? Only based on everything he has said he should recuse given the animus he has shown. But I doubt he has the dignity to do that.

  • 5. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    One of the plaintiffs in the latest case, "Strawser v. Strange," John Humphrey, definitely wins the award for having uttered the understatement of the week, while celebrating the win, "This is the Bible Belt, for Christ sake!"

  • 6. F_Young  |  January 27, 2015 at 12:30 pm

    guitaristbl: "What a disgrace for the judiciary…How can a gay man seek any kind of justice on any issue before the Alabama Supreme Court ? Only based on everything he has said he should recuse given the animus he has shown."

    Article: "Moore spoke out Tuesday after sending a letter to the governor saying a ruling by a federal judge in favor of a same-sex couple in Mobile is not binding on Alabama’s probate judges."

    Incredible. And he's the Chief Justice.

    It would be outrageous if he does not recuse himself.

  • 7. ebohlman  |  January 27, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    This injunction binds the defendant and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit same-sex marriage.

    I think that's the "clarification" she promised in Searcy. Now her seeming overreach in that case makes sense; she had a couple cards up her sleeve.

    Strawser seems to have flown completely under everybody's radar. Am I reading correctly that it was filed and briefed pro se?

  • 8. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 12:34 pm

    Roy Moore is undoubtedly one of the primary reasons why all the marriage cases in Alabama were filed in federal court. The state court system in Alabama is probably the most atrocious in the nation,– and has been like that since forever.

    Although some things in the Deep South have been known to change with time, the Alabama state court system is not one of those which has seen any movement.

  • 9. Raga  |  January 27, 2015 at 12:44 pm

    Yes, this is a pro se lawsuit – the only Alabama lawsuit that sought the right to marry in-state. It was filed only a couple of months ago, a hearing was held mid-December, and now a preliminary injunction has been issued. That's lightning fast for Alabama! I haven't seen a single report of this lawsuit until today.

  • 10. weaverbear  |  January 27, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    Going to Alabama to go ice skating. Surely there is ice there everywhere, as hell once again has frozen over!!

  • 11. brandall  |  January 27, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    There are 3 other Federal ME cases pending in Alabama. Aaron-Brush v. Bentley was filed by the ACLU and is a recognition cases and as of 11/13/14 motions for summary judgment are fully briefed. Hard v. Bentley was file by the Southern Poverty Law Center for recognition of a widower and as of 10/29/14 motions for summary judgment are fully briefed. Richmond & Richmond v. Madison County Circuit Clerk is a divorce handled by private attorneys.

    Anyone with PACER access, I would love to know the docket#, judge's name and anything pending in the docket of the first two cases. Thanks.

  • 12. Decided_Voter  |  January 27, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Yes – would love to know the judge's name(s).

  • 13. Raga  |  January 27, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Re-posting my comment from 2 weeks ago (note that the Richmond divorce case is a state case, not federal case).

    ======================================================================
    The state court divorce case in Alabama was filed March 3, 2014 and dismissed March 12, 2014. (However, there is a March 13 docket entry that includes a badly scanned image of an unsigned divorce certificate.) I can't find any appellate record of this case.

    There are three federal cases in Alabama, all of them only seeking marriage recognition:
    (1) Hard v. Bentley was filed in December 2013. The plaintiff is seeking recognition as the surviving spouse of his deceased husband. This case has been assigned to Judge William Keith Watkins, a George W. Bush appointee, and he referred it to Magistrate Judge Susan Russ Walker. On March 31, 2014, the mother of the deceased was allowed to join the case unopposed as an intervenor-defendant. Plaintiff, Defendants, and Intervenor-Defendant have all filed their own motions for summary judgment, all of which have been briefed and ready for a ruling since November 2014.
    (2) Searcy v. Strange was filed in May 2014. It has been assigned to Judge Callie V. S. Granade, a George W. Bush appointee, and referred to Magistrate Judge Katherine P. Nelson. In August, Plaintiffs' claims against all defendants were dismissed, except for Defendant Searcy, in his official capacity. Cross motions for summary judgment have been fully briefed and referred to the judge, awaiting a ruling since late-November, 2014.
    (3) Aaron-Brush v. Bentley was filed in June 2014. It has been assigned to Judge R. David Proctor, a George W. Bush appointee. In mid-September, he issued the following order setting a schedule of deadlines in the case: "Mediation in 2/2015; Discovery due by 2/4/2015; Dispositive Motions due by 4/6/2015; Pretrial conference ready in 8/2015; This case will be trial ready in 9/2015." (Later in September, he dismissed Governor Bentley as a defendant based on a joint motion to dismiss.)
    ======================================================================

    Well, now we know there was a fourth federal case I was unaware of that sought the right to marry in Alabama :)

  • 14. RnL2008  |  January 27, 2015 at 1:21 pm

    Roy Moore should NEVER even be a Justice as he is EXTREMELY biased as well as a person who feels he DOESN'T have to follow ANY laws!!!

  • 15. RnL2008  |  January 27, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    what's amazing about this case in my opinion is that the plaintiffs had NO lawyer and still were able to win……as for Roy Moore, that man is in direct conflict with his position on the Alabama State Supreme Court….and should be tossed for his obvious ANIMUS towards just about EVERY PERSON except the white rich men!!!

  • 16. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 1:55 pm

    '…. it was filed and briefed pro se? "

    Yes, it was. As far as the marriage cases are concerned, there are only two others, of which I am aware, that were originally filed pro se. Ada Conde Vidal did so (originally) in the Puerto Rico case, and like her, a couple in Texas seeking recognition also filed pro se.

    And as far as "under the radar" is concerned, the answer is: Yes, totally. I had no idea this case was even pending (although it's now quite obvious that Judge Granade was keenly aware of its presence).

  • 17. Tony MinasTirith  |  January 27, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    Wow, I wonder how this "chief justice" really feels about lesbians and gays. No animus here. This guy clearly thinks that he is the guardian of the Fascist Theocracy that is Alabama. He clearly has no respect for authority above himself, except his god. I'm just glad Rick Perry is not still governor of Texas. He and his guy would be, if not already, plotting and threatening secession of Alabama and Texas and civil war. I wouldn't be surprised if, after Kennedy and Company strike down the state mini DOMAs, and say that the states constitutions are subservient to the US Constitution that he writes another letter to the governor suggesting or demanding that he activate the national guard to stop anyone from issuing licenses to same sex couples.

    If Governor Bentley takes up this so called "justice" on his recommendation to defy the district and possibly Circuit Courts, it is going to get ugly. Does anyone from Alabama know if the governor is likely to stand up and defy the federal courts or will he capitulate like every other republican governor before him. This guy is the re-incarnation of Orval Faubus and George Wallace. Lets hope Governor Bentley is not also. Orval Faubus' defiance didn't work in 1957, what makes this judge think it will work against the Supreme Court today? I guess history hasn't taught this guy a thing. I hope he turns out to be nothing but a bunch of hot air.

  • 18. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    "Going to Alabama to go ice skating …. as hell once again has frozen over!!"

    Or to paraphrase Dorothy while gaily flying "over the rainbow" in a revised version, entitled the "Wizard of 'Bama:" "Alabama's not Alabama any more, Toto."

  • 19. brandall  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    The ACLU and FTM websites did not list this case either. So, they apparently don't know about it either.

  • 20. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:09 pm

    DOUBLE THE WIGGLES, DOUBLE THE FUN!!!

    A-WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE!
    A-WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE!
    A-WIGGLE WIGGLE!
    WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE!!!

  • 21. Zack12  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:10 pm

    Part of it is due to the fact all of the judges are elected.
    There is simply no way any person who supports marriage equality would get elected down there.

  • 22. josejoram  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    There is here a huge non solved debate over the "originalist" approach on Constitutional Law. Please, correct me if I misunderstand.

  • 23. Steve84  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:32 pm

    Moore thinks that state should execute gay people. He went out of his way to say that on a concurrence during a custody case in 2002.

    He was involved in gay custody cases before and as a circuit judge was removed from a case once for his open hatred: http://www.gadsdentimes.com/article/20020303/NEWS

  • 24. Steve84  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:34 pm

    This is what he really thinks:

    "To disfavor practicing homosexuals in custody matters is not invidious discrimination, nor is it legislating personal morality. On the contrary, disfavoring practicing homosexuals in custody matters promotes the general welfare of the people of our State in accordance with our law, which is the duty of its public servants…

    The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle…

    Homosexual behavior is a ground for divorce, an act of sexual misconduct punishable as a crime in Alabama, a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it. That is enough under the law to allow a court to consider such activity harmful to a child. To declare that homosexuality is harmful is not to make new law but to reaffirm the old; to say that it is not harmful is to experiment with people's lives, particularly the lives of children."

    And most people in Alabama agree with him.

  • 25. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:39 pm

    Thanks, Raga, that's perfect.

    All I can add is that "Hard v. Bentley" is in federal court in Montgomery, while "Aaron-Brush v. Bentley" is in federal court in Birmingham.

    The state court divorce case, "Richmond and Richmond v. Madison County," is supposedly on appeal from Huntsville (Madison County) directly to the Alabama Supreme Court.

  • 26. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 2:53 pm

    Then Roy Moore should be more than happy to grant the same-sex couple in "Richmond and Richmond" their long-sought divorce.

  • 27. montezuma58  |  January 27, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    From the order:
    "This injunction binds the defendant and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit same-sex marriage."

    Translation:
    Did y'all dumbasses already forget what happened in Florida?

  • 28. Tony MinasTirith  |  January 27, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    He's a throwback from the dark ages. Can you forward that to justice Kennedy?

  • 29. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    Here's a mini bio on Roy Moore, courtesy of Joe.My.God:

    Moore was booted from office in 2003 for refusing to remove a copy of the Ten Commandments from his courtroom. He ran unsuccessfully for Alabama governor in 2006 and 2010 and was re-elected as Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice in 2012. Upon his re-election, Moore handed over the leadership of the anti-gay group he founded to his wife, Kayla Moore. That group, the Foundation For Moral Law, filed a September 2014 brief (in "Hard v. Bentley") in support of an Alabama woman who wants to prevent her late son's widower from inheriting his estate. That same month the Foundation For Moral Law called on SCOTUS justices Kagan and Ginsberg to recuse themselves from all same-sex marriage cases. In May 2014 Roy Moore declared that the First Amendment only applies to Christians.

  • 30. 1grod  |  January 27, 2015 at 3:51 pm

    Tony: please copy it to Justices J. Sutton and D. Cook of the 6th Circuit. G

  • 31. Dr. Z  |  January 27, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Struggle thru that link. Why is it that so many news sites catering to the right wing are so badly done? I would hate to subject myself to it twice to confirm it, but I don't think they used the word 'gay' or the initials LGBT – it was always 'homosexuals'.

    Roy Moore should be disbarred. Seriously.

  • 32. VIRick  |  January 27, 2015 at 9:10 pm

    Jose, according to Judge Posner, there is no debate. Instead, as he scathingly points out in the several books he's written, it's an approach which is recently-invented by a modern group of bigotted judges (read Scalia, Sutton, and company) as a means to justify their ruling in favor of whatever they favor, and ruling against whatever they're against.

  • 33. josejoram  |  January 28, 2015 at 8:20 am

    Great! Thank you so much, VIRick!

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