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BREAKING: Lawyers for Alabama same-sex couple file contempt motion against Mobile County probate judge UPDATE: request denied

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Mobile County, Alabama, is stalling in issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The county has said there are some delays, and they’re not issuing licenses until those are worked out. They aren’t even opening the marriage license division.

Attorneys for the couple who filed Searcy v. Strange have just filed a contempt motion requesting “an Order declaring the Honorable Don Davis to be in contempt, to further order law enforcement to open the marriage license division of Mobile County Probate Court, impose sanctions against the Honorable Don Davis, and any such further legal remedies this Court deems appropriate and just, the premises considered.”

The motion notes there is no “reason why the marriage license division is closed on this particular day” and there’s no indication when the office will be open.

UPDATE: The judge has denied request, pointing out that the probate judge wasn’t named as a defendant and therefore wasn’t required to do anything. The judge informed the parties how to move forward: “The Clarification Order noted that actions against Judge Davis or others who fail to follow the Constitution could be initiated by persons who are harmed by their failure to follow the law. However, no such action is before the Court at this time.”

Essentially, a couple needs to apply for, and be denied, a license.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings

67 Comments

  • 1. Mistahtom  |  February 9, 2015 at 9:41 am

    Sounds like Alabama wants a visit from the National Guard.

  • 2. jcmeiners  |  February 9, 2015 at 9:43 am

    We are nowhere near that yet. Fortunately. For now, a contempt of court finding, plus a US Marshal, if needed, should do just fine.

  • 3. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 9:46 am

    Birmingham and Huntsville: http://www.usmarshals.gov/district/al-n/
    Montgomery and SE: http://www.usmarshals.gov/district/al-m/
    Mobile and Selma: http://www.usmarshals.gov/district/al-s/

  • 4. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 9:48 am

    Very disappointed in Mobile County. I thought Mobile County was supposed to be equality friendly.

  • 5. hopalongcassidy  |  February 9, 2015 at 9:51 am

    Someone on M$NBC a few minutes ago said Roy Moore has threatened to call in the National Guard to PREVENT issuing licenses. That would be a very interesting development.
    (Yes, I know he doesn't have the authority but does HE know that….?)

  • 6. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 9:58 am

    Yeah I heard that too! Does Judge Moore think the National Guard respond on a 'first come, first served' basis??

  • 7. Eric  |  February 9, 2015 at 9:59 am

    Oh, there's a reason why the offices aren't open in Mobile…animus.

  • 8. Eric  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:01 am

    Nope.

  • 9. Mistahtom  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:02 am

    Let's hope so. If the Nat'l Guard shows up, the bigots will think it's end times or something and react accordingly.

  • 10. Eric  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:04 am

    Moore is pulling an Alexander Haig.

  • 11. jcmeiners  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:05 am

    How does the contempt motion proceed from here? Would the judge typically ask the defendant to show cause (make up excuses) why he didn't comply? Or can she just issue the order? And, can it be appealed?

  • 12. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:08 am

    I'm going to throw a bit of cold water on everyone now, just for a few minutes. There's nothing the Feds can do to kick the nonconforming judges out of office. However, they can rough 'em up a bit…

    Roy Moore can't be removed from office except by Alabama, specifically the Court of the Judiciary or full-on impeachment proceedings. He can, however, be thrown in federal prison under contempt charges until he relents.

    Probate judges can't be removed from office except by the CoJ or by the AL Supreme Court. They can also be thrown in federal prison though.
    http://judicial.alabama.gov/judiciary/judiciary.c

  • 13. Raga  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:10 am

    Alabama's Largest Newspaper Asks: 'Is Roy Moore A Closeted Homosexual?'
    http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbad

  • 14. Raga  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:13 am

    I don't know. I expect the federal judge to first issue (or at least, initiate the formal proceedings towards) a direct injunction against the Mobile probate judge. I guess he can only be held in contempt if he still refuses to comply.

  • 15. jcmeiners  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Moore et al. in federal prison would be good enough for me.

  • 16. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Yeah, I'd be okay with that.

  • 17. A_Jayne  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:15 am

    Good news from the same site:
    http://www.thenewcivilrightsmovement.com/davidbad

  • 18. Raga  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:16 am

    YES! This'll make the Eighth Circuit squirm in their seats (at least those judges with a shred of conscience in them) – the Missouri Plaintiffs have renewed their request to lift their stay: http://www.scribd.com/doc/255208128/14-3779-2nd-M

    I hope hope hope that this is with the intention of appealing to the Supreme Court should the Eighth Circuit deny again.

  • 19. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:17 am

    VERY good news!! Thanks for this reminder!!

  • 20. Zack12  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:17 am

    That is what they are aiming for.
    I just don't see the 8th doing anything in our favor, I just don't.

  • 21. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:18 am

    He's insane. lol.

  • 22. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:21 am

    How many judges will hold out when Granade or Holder sends Federal Marshalls to their offices to put them in some nice steel bracelets and put them in slammer?

    And what's happening with state agencies? Are there more counties issuing licenses or denying them right now? The governor is going to have to come out from under his desk sooner or later and pick a side. Either he sides with Granade and the Supremacy Clause or with Moore and apple dumpling gang of [re]probates?

    Granade should order them all to appear in her court to explain why she shouldn't hold them in contempt and let them reconsider their position in the state Pen

  • 23. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:22 am

    Seeing Paul Hard finally getting vindicated is probably the most rewarding thing of the day. And I hope this creature not worty of being called a "mother" can die out of her hatred now. She lost.

  • 24. Zack12  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:24 am

    On a different note, this is where we have to realize how lucky we have gotten on the various circuits.
    Sutton and Cook aren't the only bigoted judges on the various circuit courts and it still amazes me how we managed to dodge so many of them until the inevitable happened and a ruling went against us.

  • 25. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Latest map I saw shows NINE counties issuing licences and performing marriages. Plus FIFTEEN issuing licences but not performing marriages (of course you could just step outside the building and have that done by any number of people authorized to do so. Not that you should have to).

  • 26. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Great news. Headline for this link… "Alabama Grants Marriage Recognition To Widower Against Mother-In-Law's Legal Pleas"

    Also following this adoption proceeding…

    Vestavia Hills same-sex couple's joint adoption of daughter underway
    http://www.al.com/news/birmingham/index.ssf/2015/

  • 27. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:25 am

    Gov. Bentley has issued a statement: http://governor.alabama.gov/newsroom/2015/02/gove

    “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.”

  • 28. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Moore is going to be furious with that statement. Bentley lacks the spine to state the obvious but at least he keeps it decent and does not go out of his way.

  • 29. Zack12  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:29 am

    In other words, it looks like the feds will have to get invovled soon.

  • 30. memeographs  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Lol. In what alternate universe does the National Gaurd take marching orders from Roy Moore?

  • 31. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Well you have to admit that in the 10th circuit, where there is a majority of dem judges, we survived a not so promising at first panel with two Bush appointees..

  • 32. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:32 am

    Hey, put him in a cell with a big brolly boy for a couple of days and see how he like it!!!

  • 33. jcmeiners  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:33 am

    One in which the earth is 7000 years old, humans and dinosaurs lived side by side, and evolution never happened.

  • 34. MichaelGrabow  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:35 am

    I haven't seen this posted here yet. What a relief this must be.
    http://joemygod.blogspot.com/2015/02/breaking-dea

  • 35. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:37 am

    He's waiting for the federal courts to enforce, so he can point the finger at them.

    It's taken all morning for this statement to be issued . Suggests the Alabama law setting out the chain of authority for administering state marriage law is ambiguous; he's spent the morning trying to get legal advice clarifying his/the state's position.

  • 36. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:37 am

    The ONLY confusion being created is by Moore and his antics……otherwise, the sun still rose this morning and will set this evening and life will go forward in Alabama!!

  • 37. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:39 am

    Yes indeed! (it was posted above, a few minutes ago, by A_Jayne).

  • 38. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:42 am

    I read in one of the comments that Judge Moore's wife runs the Foundation for Moral Law, which represents the mother-in-law…. Is that true? Revolting.

  • 39. Zack12  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:43 am

    It is indeed true.
    Makes everyone involved more vile then they already are.

  • 40. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:45 am

    BURN IN HELL Chief Moore………….. this "order": will come back and bite you IN THE BIGOT ASS……… RESIGN NOW

  • 41. Rick55845  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:45 am

    Kudos to the Alabama Department of Health for following the law and issuing an updated death certificate for David Fancher showing Paul Hard as his legal spouse.

  • 42. samg68  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:48 am

    Roy himself is a former president. He's not having a good day is he.

  • 43. dorothyrothchild  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:51 am

    Did anyone else immediately see the irony in Moore sending out his statement on Sunday night? Isn't the whole not working on a Sunday/Sabbath one of the Ten Commandments that he had installed on the steps to the court house?

  • 44. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:55 am

    This is county by county list where marriage licenses are being issued http://www.wsfa.com/story/28061084/county-by-coun

  • 45. dorothyrothchild  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:55 am

    Can we call a moratorium on rape jokes? No one deserves to be raped – in prison or anywhere else for that matter.

  • 46. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

    No, sorry but someone like that who has repeatedly done the things he has done to harm our community gets ALL that he so richly deserves…….it's called KARMA and it's NOT gonna stroke his ego!!!

  • 47. BillinNO  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Did he wait until after sundown? Doesn't the Sabbath work like that in the Jewish faith? You get to do stuff only after sundown? I'm pretty sure there's a sundown clause for Muslims fasting during Ramadan…maybe he's a Muslim?

  • 48. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:11 am

    In this page, there is a map showing counties denying marriage licenses
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/10/us/alabama-supr

  • 49. MichaelGrabow  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Ah, sorry, A_Jayne.

  • 50. hopalongcassidy  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:23 am

    Exodus 31:15 is rarely considered by fundies, as are many others.
    Rules of bible quoting:

    Whenever a bible passage can be used to support someone's belief and bigotry, that passage is clear, stands on its own, and does not depend on any other context or special interpretation.

    Whenever someone points out any of the hundreds of bible passages showing god literally ordering or approving killing of children,
    raping of young girls, correct treatment of slaves, death penalty
    for minor infractions, and genocide, the proper response is

    (pick one or more of the following):

    1. It is taken out of context
    2. Can only be understood by special understanding of context
    3. The OT is not relevant
    4. God can't be understood by humans
    5. This is selective quoting
    6. The quoter doesn't understand the bible
    7. God didn't say that, he was "misquoted"
    8. God meant some special application, such as to Israelites or
    ancient clergy, etc.

  • 51. scream4ever  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

    Then when the Supreme Court lifts the stay, the South Dakota and Arkansas plaintiffs should make the same request. I'm not sure if the Supremes would go as far as to lift those which have already been in place and are being contested by state officials, but they've surprised me time and time again in the last 4 months.

  • 52. A_Jayne  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

    No problem – the more attention this gets, the better it is!

  • 53. VIRick  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:26 am

    I like this:

    "Can the state say to hell with the federal government and do its own thing?

    See: Civil War.

    And: Civil Rights Movement.

    And also: Pretty Much Every Federal Court Action against Alabama in 150 years."

  • 54. hopalongcassidy  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:01 pm

    I'm not seeing 'rape' in RnL's post.

  • 55. JayJonson  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:52 pm

    Not gay friendly, but it is more vulnerable to a boycott than most of Alabama since it has something of a tourist industry. I think it should be singled out for a boycott.

  • 56. Eric  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    Any sin is ok, as long as it is anti-gay.

  • 57. hopalongcassidy  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:06 pm

    There is no such thing as 'sin'. It is a completely arbitrary, illusory, artificial, capricious and irrational concept that varies according to which delusional belief system is attempting to define it. What is 'sin' to one is holy sacrament to others, and vice versa.
    Make believe gods have no connection to the real world and neither does the imaginary "Satan" that some people appear (and/or claim) to believe in.

  • 58. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:14 pm

    I believe there are 10 counties presently issuing licenses.

  • 59. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:04 pm

    Frankly, to deny the contempt charges and do nothing in fact sends the WRONG message to the Probate Judges…..but hopefully tomorrow a new couple will be denied and their suit will get some attention!!!

  • 60. wes228  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:07 pm

    It's not the judge's job to send a message. The law is that District Court decisions are not binding on outside parties.

  • 61. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Though I'm sure you are probably right, I still disagree with the action as these issues need to be dealt with, that's why we have a mess in Kansas and why one 1 or 2 counties in Missouri are all that are issuing marriages……..it's why I believe Moore himself needs to be dealt with as there was NO confusion as to what the Probate Judges were instructed to do!!!

  • 62. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:41 pm

    There WASN'T……but some will take it to mean something that isn't there and truly I do wish Moore to receive all he so richly deserves…..whatever Karma may give him……..but I don't truly wish him any harm……per say.

  • 63. dorothyrothchild  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Agreed! And if I actually believed in hell then I would have to think that the Roy Moores and Gov. Ultrasound McDonnells of the world have already carved out a special place there for all the needless pain and suffering they've inflicted.

  • 64. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    I see your point and agree with ya……someone Like Moore doesn't understand the harm being caused by denying us the right to marry who we love and choose and not simply because they are the opposite gender of us.

    Moore, in my opinion is also in direct conflict with is professional duties with his Law firm that supposedly his wife runs…….he is a menace to all that America Stands for and his breed of bigotry NEEDS to go away!!!

  • 65. DrBriCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:41 pm

    Yeah, that's my hope as well…. SCOTUS will lift Missouri's stay and then there's little excuse to explain reasoning to continue SD or Arkansas's remaining stays. Fingers crossed!

    (And hopefully the 8th doesn't take over a month this time around to respond….

  • 66. dorothyrothchild  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:56 pm

    That and the teen suicide rate in the South is off the charts for lgbt youth. My heart goes out to all the kids in these Southern states who have to listen to such hateful bigotry. Can't wait for those old farts to hurry up and die off!

  • 67. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:59 pm

    Now, that is something I can't wait for either…….the faster those sorts of folks leave this Earth……the better we are per say……but there will always be bigots, just some will eventually keep their bigotry to themselves hopefully!!

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