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The latest in Alabama’s marriage cases

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

It’s been a busy and exciting day for those of us in Alabama. It seems like things are happening too quickly to keep up.

Here, I’ll explain the latest so far.

A federal district court judge struck down Alabama’s marriage bans in two separate cases, Searcy v. Strange and Strawser v. Strange, over the past two weeks. (You can read the transcript in Strawser, which began as a pro se case – meaning the couple filed the case themselves, with no lawyer – here.)

The injunctions requiring that state officials no longer ban same-sex couples from marrying or having their marriages recognized have been put on hold until Monday, February 9. The district court judge granted that temporary stay on her own discretion; she denied the state’s request for a stay pending appeal (which would have effectively put marriages and recognition of existing marriages on hold until after the Supreme Court decision in June) holding that the state didn’t meet any of the factors for a stay pending appeal.

Today, the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals denied the request for a stay, without any explanation.

While that was happening in the appeals court, the sane-sex couples in Searcy asked the district court judge to fully lift the temporary stay, allowing marriages immediately. State officials opposed that, noting they were filing a request for a stay pending appeal in the Supreme Court.

The district court judge denied the request, and also said in her order that she would leave the stay in place until it expires on February 9 even if the Supreme Court denies a stay, so that state officials can prepare to grant licenses and recognize marriages.

The National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) filed the same request in the district court, in the Strawser case, and the state opposed. There’s not been an order in that case yet, but it’s likely the request will be denied as it was in Searcy.

Now, Alabama officials have filed an application with the Supreme Court, asking them for a stay pending appeal. The request went to Justice Thomas initially, in his capacity as Circuit Justice for the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals. He has the option of acting on the request himself or referring it to the full Court. He may also call for responses from the same-sex couples.

When Florida asked the Supreme Court for a stay after the Eleventh Circuit denied their request in a marriage case, Justice Thomas called for responses, and the full Court decided to deny the stay.

The Court could make a decision any time. It will likely be before Monday, when the stay expires, but they do have the option of entering a further temporary stay while they decide.

Either way, it appears marriages won’t be happening in Alabama until next Monday at the earliest.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings

36 Comments

  • 1. sfbob  |  February 3, 2015 at 3:23 pm

    In a way it was rather crafty of Judge Granade to allow her stay to remain in place until 2/9 even if SCOTUS refuses to extend it, so that state officials can deal with the overwhelming difficulty of providing gender-neutral marriage license applications. This was, after all, one of the grounds for the state asking for a longer extension. Apparently no other state has had to deal with such a complicated task ever before.

  • 2. montezuma58  |  February 3, 2015 at 3:27 pm

    sane-sex is boring 😉

  • 3. davepCA  |  February 3, 2015 at 3:30 pm

    Indeed! It's a good thing the state of Alabama requires all of those state officials to have a degree in rocket science, to provide them with the necessary background and resources which are required to enable them to alter two words on the marriage application form : )

  • 4. RnL2008  |  February 3, 2015 at 3:50 pm

    I agree……..it's sort of like saying "Love is never Naughty"…….that was funny. Let me explain…..when my partner was alive, we had a private commitment ceremony and a co-worker of mine was an ordained Minister who performed our ceremony and during our practice run, he couldn't see the word as HAUGHTY instead he thought it was NAUGHTY and we all just had a big laugh and said, well, I ain't doing this……lol!!!

    The rest of the ceremony went off without further confusion and it was a wonderful day…….but nothing compared to actually and legally marrying my wife was……boy, was I a nervous wreck!!!

  • 5. jpmassar  |  February 3, 2015 at 4:25 pm

    Either way, it appears marriages won’t be happening in Alabama until next Monday at the earliest.

    No one could have plausibly even imagined writing that sentence two years ago…

  • 6. netoschultz  |  February 3, 2015 at 5:41 pm

    http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/02/alabama_

    "Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has written an advisory letter and memorandum to the state's probate judges saying that they are not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite the court ruling striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriages."

  • 7. DrBriCA  |  February 3, 2015 at 6:02 pm

    He needs to be fired from his job AGAIN, and immediately! I know SPLC has filed a second complaint today, and I hope it gets through the right channels quickly. Clerks and probate judges cannot follow or be tried against a law that is unconstitutional! Even though they swear to abide by the Alabama constitution, which currently has the ban, they also swear an oath to follow the US Constitution, which is the supreme law, and its Fourteenth Amendment is clear on the fact that state laws must have due process and equal protection.

  • 8. flyerguy77  |  February 3, 2015 at 6:22 pm

    What happens if the probate judges follows his "orders" Can Judge Grande/ Federal court drag order the Chief Moore and judges to court? and be SUED

  • 9. flyerguy77  |  February 3, 2015 at 6:46 pm

    fire Moore NOW

  • 10. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 3, 2015 at 6:57 pm

    Not only do they also swear an oath to follow the US Constitution, it PRECEDES mention of the Alabama state constitution in the oath.

    The oath required of all members of the legislature, and all officers, executive and judicial, before they enter upon the execution of the duties of their respective offices, shall take the following oath or affirmation:

    "I, …, solemnly swear (or affirm, as the case may be) that I will support the Constitution of the United States, and the Constitution of the State of Alabama, so long as I continue a citizen thereof; and that I will faithfully and honestly discharge the duties of the office upon which I am about to enter, to the best of my ability. So help me God."

  • 11. ebohlman  |  February 3, 2015 at 7:16 pm

    Not even half a year ago, and probably not even three months ago.

  • 12. Fortguy  |  February 3, 2015 at 7:17 pm

    Mildly off topic, but marriage equality will be the subject discussed on tonight's The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore on Comedy Central at 11:30 ET/10:30 CT after The Daily Show. For those unfamiliar, Wilmore's show is the excellent replacement for Stephen Colbert's old time slot.

  • 13. RnL2008  |  February 3, 2015 at 7:28 pm

    The man is a bigoted azz and knows that he's advisory letter can be used against him and shows that he is willing to violate the rights of not only Gays and Lesbians, but put in jeopardy the jobs of the Probate Judges……would NOT be advisable for them to NOT do their jobs!!!

  • 14. RnL2008  |  February 3, 2015 at 8:08 pm

    The man NEEDS to be fired and removed from his position as he is basically telling State Officials that they are NOT required to follow the rulings from Federal District Courts or Appellate rulings……….this is a BLATANT defiance of the United States Constitution.

    What is even more frustrating is that if the Judge had ruled in favor of the State, Moore would be praising her………what a hateful mean spirited bigoted azz!!

  • 15. StraightDave  |  February 3, 2015 at 8:29 pm

    Being a fan of Eats, Shoots, and Leaves" and the linguistic power of the comma, I couldn't help but notice the opportunity for some mischief in the AL stay appeal.

    "LUTHER STRANGE, ATTORNEY GENERAL OF THE STATE OF ALABAMA"

    might just as well have been rewritten as
    "LUTHER, STRANGE ATTORNEY GENERAL …".

    Some jokes are so obvious they almost write themselves.

  • 16. VIRick  |  February 3, 2015 at 8:50 pm

    Dave, actually, "Eats, Shoots, and Leaves," complete with all the commas, carries a much more intriguing message.

    Of all the marriage cases, my favorite, for its name alone, is "Hard v. Bentley," given that the plaintiff is definitely Hard and the state defendant is quite Bent-ley.

  • 17. StraightDave  |  February 3, 2015 at 9:13 pm

    …"a more intriguing message" ?

    One definitely not covered in the book, if I get your drift :)

  • 18. VIRick  |  February 3, 2015 at 9:28 pm

    A government official who fails to abide by a court order can be cited for contempt of court.

  • 19. brandall  |  February 4, 2015 at 4:23 am

    It gets better! Here is the perfect book for Hard (v) Bentley.

    Warning: NSFW
    http://www.amazon.com/Last-Time-I-Drew-Crowd/dp/1

  • 20. RQO  |  February 4, 2015 at 6:01 am

    Kudos to Scottie Thomaston, our reporter on the ground in Alabama. We are priveleged to be getting accurate, breaking news we can trust from a small state without much media coverage. (This has been a problem in other states in the past.) And of course this is amazing, as ME enters the lion's den. Clearly Chief Justice Moore intends to make trouble. I suggest we send Rose to Montgomery to talk some sense into him; that should about do it.

  • 21. RnL2008  |  February 4, 2015 at 6:47 am

    Hey, that would be great because at this moment in time, I'd really make him understand EXACTLY what it means to be a bigot and show him the errors of his way!!!

  • 22. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 4, 2015 at 6:50 am

    I'm confused, Rose…I'm sorry, was your partner and then your wife the same person???

  • 23. AndresM11  |  February 4, 2015 at 6:51 am

    Hahaha I love it when VIRick finds the intriguing message no one had noticed <3

  • 24. AndresM11  |  February 4, 2015 at 6:52 am

    I second that motion! Let's send Rose to Montgomery and I'm sure she'll make them comply with the District Court's order :)

  • 25. RnL2008  |  February 4, 2015 at 7:00 am

    I'll explain……..before I met my wife Lee, I had been in a previous relationship with a woman for 12 1/2 years. She passed in July of 2002. We had a small commitment ceremony but were never legally married. I grieved for almost a full 5 years. I felt like I was ready to at least have a friend in my life, Lee turned out to be so much more and roughly a year of being together, we married legally in August of 2008.

    So, when I say "PARTNER", I mean the person I was with before I met and married my wife Lee.

    Hope that helps:-)

  • 26. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 4, 2015 at 7:03 am

    It does! Thank you. :-)

  • 27. RnL2008  |  February 4, 2015 at 7:13 am

    You're welcome:-)

  • 28. 1grod  |  February 4, 2015 at 7:25 am

    Rose: Justice Moore states that he is the administrative head of an Unified Judicial System. In this role, he is providing guidance to the Probate Judges but leaving to each judge their decision, mindful that actions in violation of their oath to uphold the state constitution are subject to review. While not acknowledging the authority of district and circuit courts, Justice Moore does acknowledge the authority of the US Supreme Court. Rose when you are inviting him to officiate at the first marriage celebration of a same gender couple, please ask him, if not the AG who petitioned the Appeals Court and the US Supreme Court, who should have been named defendant? Himself as the administrative head? He seeks an active role, and writes interesting opinions: http://media.al.com/news_impact/other/Chief%20Jus

  • 29. RnL2008  |  February 4, 2015 at 7:28 am

    I will inform him of his role, but it might take several attempts in order for him to understand……..stupid should hurt:-)

  • 30. RnL2008  |  February 4, 2015 at 7:29 am

    Just as long as I have friends who will put up my bail……..lol!!!

  • 31. davepCA  |  February 4, 2015 at 9:31 am

    Go get 'em, Rose! : )

  • 32. Chuck_in_PA  |  February 4, 2015 at 9:57 am

    I was confused too, and am so happy that Lee is fine, although sorry your earlier relationship had ended with your partner's passing in 2002.

  • 33. RnL2008  |  February 4, 2015 at 10:58 am

    Thanks Chuck……..that's sort of why one is mentioned as "PARTNER" and the other as my wife……and though I would have loved to have had my partner around to see our accomplishments……..and I loved her as much as I could, Lee is and was always my Soul Mate and I can't image living life without her:-)

  • 34. RnL2008  |  February 4, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Show me the way to Alabama:-)

  • 35. sfbob  |  February 4, 2015 at 12:27 pm

    CJ Moore is doubling down

    MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – Alabama's chief justice is telling probate judges that they are not required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite a federal judge's decision overturning the state's gay marriage ban.

    Roy Moore sent a letter Tuesday to probate judges, saying the judge's decision isn't binding on them. Moore said a lower federal court can't force the state to redefine marriage.

    […]

    The Southern Poverty Law Center has filed [another] an ethics complaint against Moore over his comments. Moore was removed from office in 2003 for defying a federal judge's order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state building.

    Source: http://www.abc3340.com/story/28024833/alabama-chi… (reported by Joe My God)

  • 36. guitaristbl  |  February 4, 2015 at 12:42 pm

    http://www.alabamacivilrights.ua.edu/tuscaloosa/p

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