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Baldwin County, Alabama, to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Tonight, Baldwin County’s probate judge announced that, despite his personal misgivings on the issue of same-sex marriage, he will begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples tomorrow:

“I have reached this decision after much thought and prayer,” said Judge Russell. “While this offends my personal beliefs, I feel compelled to follow the order of Judge Granade issued to Judge [Don] Davis.”

Russell added that Friday will be the first day same-sex couples can be wed in Baldwin County unless the federal or state courts provide “further guidance or rulings” on the issue.

The county’s shift in position came just after a federal district court judge ruled that Mobile County’s probate judge is required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

This reporter lives in Baldwin County, so the news is particularly exciting. I’ve called the county probate court every day this week, and I’ve been told they are not issuing licenses to same-sex couples. I plan to call first thing tomorrow to make sure they’ve gone ahead with the new policy.

UPDATE: Confirmed:

71 Comments

  • 1. 1grod  |  February 12, 2015 at 8:02 pm

    Scottie – a special congratulations. By my count 68% of the residents of your state reside in inclusive counties. In another post the prediction was inclusion would be in the 70% by noon tomorrow. This news makes that dream more than realizable!

  • 2. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 12, 2015 at 8:03 pm

    Thank you!

    FWIW I also read that Tuscaloosa will also issue licenses. Didn't mean to leave that out, and will probably cover it tomorrow. Just have to admit I'm thrilled and stunned about my own county.

  • 3. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 12, 2015 at 8:09 pm

    Scottie…I just wanna say thank you for all you do and have done. You're an awesome man who I'd love to meet someday and shake your hand…even give you a bear hug. Thank you, thank you, thank you!!! I'm so happy for you and yours about the progress being made in Alabama. :o)

  • 4. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 12, 2015 at 8:15 pm

    WIGGLE WIGGLE WIGGLE!!! Hehehe!

  • 5. galen697  |  February 12, 2015 at 8:55 pm

    Awesome news! If I was an attorney in Alabama at this point, I'd go on record to the remaining counties and let them know that I would be filing court papers Monday if they didn't starting issuing licenses to all eligible applicants by EOD tomorrow. Enough is enough at this point.

  • 6. RnL2008  |  February 12, 2015 at 9:18 pm

    So, Scottie…….when's the big day? Congratulations and thank you for all you do for the Community!!!

    Need some Girl Scout Cookies?

  • 7. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 12, 2015 at 10:08 pm

    Don't you mean a wolf hug?

  • 8. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 12, 2015 at 10:11 pm

    Haha. Wolf hug = humping the leg. LMAO.

  • 9. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 12, 2015 at 10:18 pm

    ⊙ʘ
    .O

  • 10. Pat_V  |  February 13, 2015 at 12:17 am

    Grod, which counties are you counting to get to 68%?
    – The Wikipedia page lists only 25 counties so far, which cover 60.5% of the state population. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in
    – In the spreadsheet I made and which you all have been updating (especially you), we have now 29 counties (these are all the Wikipedia-listed counties, plus Chilton, Geneva, Henry and Lee) representing 65.4% of the state population. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sOMXM59jZ

    * Are the 4 counties not listed in Wikipedia really issuing licenses? (usually the people updating these marriage pages on Wikipedia are really following things carefully)
    * Which other counties are you counting to get to 68%?

  • 11. Dr. Z  |  February 13, 2015 at 1:36 am

    I'm wondering if what happened in Alabama is the final knock-down fight that needed to happen. For some time the 'phobes (think Monte Stewart) have been carrying this meme that states that gained marriage equality thru court order only did so because AGs, governors, etc. were too intimidated by Teh Gays, Inc to really take off the gloves and fight. However, no one can say that Alabama has come quietly down this path.

    The meme is wrong, BTW. In NO STATE has marriage equality been achieved without a fight. Oregon seemed the easiest, but that was only because Scott Lively and Lon Mabon put us thru one ugly ballot fight after another in the '90s and people weren't up for another. Massachusetts in 2004 was a donnybrook. New York in 2011 was a bruiser. Iowa was a nail biter for years. Really, it's been one knock down brawl after another.

    I wonder if they got this out of their system now. Probably not. But whether they're ready to give up or not, they're beaten. And by a bunch of dykes and nancy boys, too. It's just too delicious. :)

  • 12. VIRick  |  February 13, 2015 at 1:57 am

    Wolf, when you're finished over there, you can come over here and hump my leg, too.

  • 13. VIRick  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:09 am

    "And by a bunch of dykes and nancy boys, too."

    You know, odd as this may sound, given the over-all context, that's one of the nicest compliments I've ever seen here at EoT.

  • 14. cpnlsn88  |  February 13, 2015 at 4:22 am

    All I can say is I am glad the wiggles are still on!

  • 15. JayJonson  |  February 13, 2015 at 6:17 am

    It will be interesting to see how Texas reacts if the stay there is lifted. On the one hand, there seems to be a plurality of the citizens in favor of marriage equality, but I suspect that support is probably urban rather than rural, and that in a huge swath of the state there will be massive resistance. It could get quite ugly.

  • 16. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 13, 2015 at 6:19 am

    United Methodist Church Moves To Allow LGBT Clergy And Gay Marriage http://news360.com/article/278602145

    Don't forget your ice skates and mittens if you're going to hell. You'll need 'em. Bundle up.

  • 17. josejoram  |  February 13, 2015 at 6:21 am

    And what if Circuit Court decides against equality?

  • 18. Sagesse  |  February 13, 2015 at 6:22 am

    :). And it's educational too… who knew Alabama had an Alamo.

    High above Mobile's 'Alamo,' gay former U.S. Army colonel flies pride flag [al.com]
    http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2015/02/g

  • 19. Rick55845  |  February 13, 2015 at 6:31 am

    Coming this close to the expecting ruling by SCOTUS, I am not really sure. But I expect that plaintiffs would appeal to SCOTUS to preserve their options, even though SCOTUS will soon hear arguments and is expected to rule on the cases from the 6th CA by end of June.

    Never give up.

  • 20. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 13, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Aww thanks :) Really nice of you to say.

  • 21. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 13, 2015 at 6:44 am

    Hahaha as soon as I find a spouse! 😛

  • 22. Sagesse  |  February 13, 2015 at 7:01 am

    The Scalia/Ginsburg Reality Show: a ‘not 100 percent sober’ friendship [Washington Post]
    http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law

  • 23. Steve27516  |  February 13, 2015 at 7:12 am

    Here's a video clip of that interview:
    http://www.wral.com/news/local/politics/video/144

  • 24. Sagesse  |  February 13, 2015 at 7:26 am

    Same-sex marriage rolls on in Mobile without Roy Moore [al.com]
    http://www.al.com/news/mobile/index.ssf/2015/02/g

    I found it odd, when I first read Judge Grenade's ruling, that, although Roy Moore was named in the suit and added as a party, Judge Grenade does not refer to him in her ruling at all.

  • 25. Rick55845  |  February 13, 2015 at 7:41 am

    What would she say to or about him? He doesn't issue marriage licenses, so he can't provide any relief to plaintiffs.

  • 26. samg68  |  February 13, 2015 at 7:45 am

    What he wants is a conflict between himself (as god's representative on earth apparently) and the "satanic" federal government, it appeals to his base. Not mentioning him is a perfect way to point out how irrelevant his opinion is.

  • 27. Zack12  |  February 13, 2015 at 7:59 am

    I concur with what Dr. Z said above in how there were no "easy" states for marriage equality.
    As someone who lives in NY and was here for the fight, I can tell you that it was as ugly and vicious as it could get.
    We had our top court (The Court of Appeals) rule against us with a bigoted ruling that makes the one Sutton and Cook wrote seem tame by comparision.
    Thus, we had to spend the next five years fighting for equality which included seeing Democrats in 09 betray their base and vote against us.
    We had to be subjected to NOM, FOF, FRC and every other anti-gay group you can think of converge here in 2010 and 2011 to try and stop equality with every vile lie they could come up and city after city was subjected to their hate rallies.
    And even when the legislature passed equality, the bigots filed lawsuits trying to get it overturned.
    Equality wasn't truly safe here in NY until 2012 when our top court told the bigots to go away.
    Then and only then, was the "easy" fight for equality in NY truly over.

  • 28. Raga  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:10 am

    Does anyone know where to access the full video of this NPR interview with Ginsburg and Scalia? I know CNN says they had the only camera there, but at least a transcript?
    http://www.cnn.com/2015/02/13/politics/ginsburg-s

  • 29. Elihu_Bystander  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:26 am

    Judge Roy Moore name was in the events and circumstances of the amended complaint. However, in my best recollection, he was not a named defendant in the motion Judge Grenade ruled on.

    He was, however, a named defendant in another alternative complaint (the one on sue everyone in multiple capacities). That complaint was denied by Judge Grenade.

  • 30. guitaristbl  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:28 am

    Congratulations Scottie :-) !

  • 31. Pat_V  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:32 am

    Haha this is so funny:
    About “Scalia/Ginsburg,” the opera which should premiere this summer, Ginsburg says: "The scene that I like best is: Justice Scalia is locked in a dark room and he's being punished for excessive dissenting. And I come to rescue him"

  • 32. DeadHead  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:34 am

    I found this one airing Monday night… You’ll be seeing the hashtag #NotoriousRBG a lot over the next few days. MSNBC confirmed tonight Irin Carmon has landed an interview with Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg, set to air Monday on “The Rachel Maddow Show.” Carmon, along with “Notorious RBG” blog creator Shana Knizhnik, are writing a biography of the justice, Notorious R.B.G.: The Life and Times of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. http://www.adweek.com/tvnewser/notorious-rbg-msnb

  • 33. 1grod  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:36 am

    Lauderdale, Colbert and Franklin are issuing licenses per WHNT News

  • 34. Sagesse  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:40 am

    Thank you. That explains it. If I try harder, I could get more confused… <sigh>.

  • 35. DeadHead  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:44 am

    I think the Scalia Ginsburg interview was sponsored by the Smithsonian and the 92nd St Y a portion of it is viewable at http://www.washingtonpost.com/politics/courts_law

    I looked at the 92nd St Y's livestreamsite and it doesn't appear to be available there yet https://new.livestream.com/92Y

  • 36. Raga  |  February 13, 2015 at 8:47 am

    Thank you!

  • 37. 1grod  |  February 13, 2015 at 9:03 am

    Pat, as I posted elsewhere, if there are reports that says that licenses are being or will soon to be issued, I have changed the column to ME column (i.e. Lee). If someone finds out that it is not so, I'm sure you would want them to correct it. Geneva Co is a question mark for me. HRC does not list it. AL.com's maps have had it there more than one update. When I now post a new license issuer, the info source will also be included. IMO 68% is solid. G

  • 38. JayJonson  |  February 13, 2015 at 9:09 am

    Yes, it is very important to remember how difficult the fight has been even in blue states such as Massachusetts and Vermont and New York. Our victories sometimes seemed very precarious and our defeats overwhelming. But we soldiered on and are now reaping the rewards of our persistence and of our insistence that we are entitled to equal rights under the law.

    We should never forget how hard we had to fight for our rights, but it is also worth observing that in most of the states in which we won difficult fights, most citizens came to embrace marriage equality. There was fierce resistance to the Iowa Supreme Court ruling, which wound up costing three of the courageous justices who ruled in our favor their jobs, but now there is a clear majority in favor of marriage equality. The same is true of many other states.

  • 39. seannynj  |  February 13, 2015 at 9:31 am

    The only two states that I would consider marriage rights "easily" won would be CT and DE. CT rode the coat tails of MA and VT. DE did the same with D.C.

    Which win was the most bruising besides CA? I'd say HI.

  • 40. Rick55845  |  February 13, 2015 at 9:46 am

    My take as an outsider reading about it after the fact is that New Mexico seemed pretty easy too. It had neither constitutional nor statutory mini-DOMA and the governor declined to fight the NM Supreme Court's unanimous ruling that the NM constitution required issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

  • 41. Sagesse  |  February 13, 2015 at 9:52 am

    Raises the question… what is the process for getting an out-of-state marriage recognized in Alabama. Is it simply a matter of requesting service (changing a name on a driver's licence, for example) and presenting a valid marriage certificate. Are the Probate Judges involved at all? Please say no.

    Tuscaloosa County issues first same-sex marriage license, but turns some away amid lingering questions [al.com]
    http://www.al.com/news/tuscaloosa/index.ssf/2015/

  • 42. Zack12  |  February 13, 2015 at 9:54 am

    DE was actually more nerve wracking then a lot of people realize.
    There were a couple of swing votes where it wasn't known which way they were going to vote right up until the day the vote took place.
    I agree with you about Hawaii being the worst.
    I honestly don't think even the Alabama or Texas legislatures could top the hate we saw come out of the Hawaii debates.

  • 43. 1grod  |  February 13, 2015 at 10:01 am

    As of Friday noon, Freedom to Marry's site says there're 42. HRC says: – 39 counties across Alabama — 75 percent of the state’s population — were issuing marriage licenses to any couple that requested one, according to the Human Rights Campaign. “These numbers represent a seismic shift in favor of equality and justice,” said Fred Sainz, the Human Rights Campaign’s vice president for communications. “Resistance to happy, loving and committed same-sex couples getting married is quickly crumbling throughout the state:- tuscaloosanews..
    By 4:00 pm today HRC identified 50 counties and an over 80 % inclusion rate

  • 44. micha1976  |  February 13, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Do the VIs even have a lawsuit?

  • 45. RemC_Chicago  |  February 13, 2015 at 10:42 am

    To all who might be interested, Freedom to Marry's Marc Solomon's book, "Winning Marriage," tells the history of the MA and NY fights quite well. The background political shenanigans were eye-opening. Highly recommend:

    http://smile.amazon.com/Winning-Marriage-Same-Sex

  • 46. Zack12  |  February 13, 2015 at 10:59 am

    Indeed it does, it is the best book out there on our fight so far and how hard it was to get victory there.

  • 47. 1grod  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Pat how to follow up on: "42 probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples. We expect that in the coming days, all 67 judges will begin following the law" from Freedom to Marry or "Still, that left about 20 of the state’s 67 counties as apparent holdouts." from the Washington Post, today's date. G

  • 48. scream4ever  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:30 am

    https://secure.freedomtomarry.org/page/contribute

    And you can also get a signed copy if you make a $25 donation to Freedom to Marry!!!

  • 49. JayJonson  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:31 am

    I agree what you say about Delaware, but Hawaii was NOT the worst of the battles. We knew we had the votes there. What was horrible was the spectacle that the Mormons and Evangelicals made of the process and how they were goaded on by some truly despicable legislators. But there was little suspense as to what the vote would be. From that perspective, it was one of the easiest, along with some of the New England states, New Mexico, and post-2012 election Minnesota.

  • 50. Zack12  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:45 am

    I followed it closely and it wasn't known if the votes were there, especially after a couple of "yes" votes changed their minds (or were lying all along.)

  • 51. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:49 am

    From Al.com (fifth and sixth paragraphs of the link provided by Sagesse):

    "Moore … was named as a party in a lawsuit filed by same-sex couples who were unable to obtain marriage licenses as Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis kept that section of the office closed due to Moore's order.

    "As a defendant, Moore had the right – but was not required – to appear personally before Granade to make his case."

    Moore being named as a party means he either was a plaintiff (hardly likely, as Moore is against ME, and the plaintiffs were trying to get ME married), or he was a defendant. He was NOT named as sitting in judgement, as that position was the judge of the court, Judge Granade. Under US law, Moore did not have to appear in the court room, just someone representing him (and others, as the case may be).

    P.S. – going by memory sometimes is NOT the best method. Yesterday, I wrote (in a comment on another site) about the fall of the Eastern Roman Empire to the Ottoman Turks. I was about to state that the event occurred in 1451 CE. Before I wrote that, I checked, and it was in 1453 CE that the Ottoman Turks conquered Constantinople, thus conquering the Eastern Roman Empire.

    A little thing, perhaps (after all, the events occurred more than 550 years ago), but for someone who has studied history, little things can mean big things. And one doesn't have to be a student of history to appreciate a little thing – just ask a native Serb why the battle of Kosovo (which occurred in 1389 CE) was commemorated in 1989 CE, 600 years after the event. That battle was indecisive (neither the Serbs nor the Ottoman Turks 'won' the battle), but that battle led to the eventual fall of all of present-day Serbia (and beyond) to the Ottoman Turks.

  • 52. VIRick  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:56 am

    No, we don't. We have pending legislation to change the VI Code. Since we have no constitution (absolutely everything here being codified), there's no possibility of there being any sort of constitutional amendment, pro or con.

  • 53. VIRick  |  February 13, 2015 at 11:58 am

    *shamelessly waves hand, while performing a cutely coy "Wolf wiggle"*

  • 54. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 13, 2015 at 12:07 pm

    Maryland's fight took decades.

    It began in 1973, when Maryland was the first state to pass a law that stated a legal marriage was ONLY between a man and a woman, and expressly banned same-sex marriage. With several twists and turns, ME was finally acheived in late 2012 (although not officially beginning until January 1, 2013), when the voters of the state upheld an ME law passed by the state legislature and signed by the Governor earlier in 2012.

    More information at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in

  • 55. GregInTN  |  February 13, 2015 at 1:23 pm

    Roy Moore is "featured" in today's editorial cartoon by Clay Bennett in the Chattanooga Times Free Press: http://www.timesfreepress.com/cartoons/2015/feb/1

  • 56. JayJonson  |  February 13, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    I also followed the battle in Hawaii very closely. Governor Abercrombie said that he would not call the special session unless it was clear that the votes were there to pass the bill. He knew that the Senate was overwhelmingly in favor of marriage equality. When he was assured by the Democratic caucus that there were sufficient votes in the House, he called the legislature into session.

    The so-called "People's Filibuster" was an attempt to stop the legislature from voting because our opponents knew that if the bill came to a vote, it would pass. The "filibuster" attempt, which consisted mainly of Mormon and Evangelical churches bussing in their congregations to make absurd charges and spout lies about same-sex marriage, was aggravating, but it did not materially affect the vote, though it may have contributed to the history-making event of an openly-lesbian legislator voting against same-sex marriage.

    The House passed the bill 30-19; the Senate passed it 19-4. It was an easy win, though the lies and vitriol spouted by the opposition was difficult to have to put up with.

  • 57. guitaristbl  |  February 13, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    HRC says currently 39 counties issue licenses :
    http://www.hrc.org/blog/entry/seismic-shift-under

    The map from Al.com shows 41 counties issuing :
    https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?do

    (The difference is that HRC says Greene county issues and the map says they do not, while the map says Sumter, St.Clair and Dekalb issue while the HRC list says they do not)

    Chambers, Clay, Cleburne, Covington, Cullman, Macon, Marengo, Marion, Pickens, Shelby, Washington,Barbour, Bibb, Choctaw, Clarke, Coosa, Geneva, Hale, Houston, Marshall, Pike, Randolph, Russell, Tallapoosa, Walker do not issue licenses (either to no one or only to same sex couples) both according to the map and the HRC list.

    Equality Alabama says 50 counties issue licenses, and links to this article which provides the map they refer to :
    http://www.nytimes.com/2015/02/14/us/most-alabama

    All in all the situation is still messy..

  • 58. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:23 pm

    Hahaha! 😉

  • 59. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    What's the likelihood of ME passing there?

  • 60. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:24 pm

    I'm gonna have to start charging licensing fees for that thing, hahaha

  • 61. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:25 pm

    Oh, they don't stop LOL

  • 62. Pat_V  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Wikipedia now lists 47 counties as issuing licenses (82% of population!), with an additional 4 counties planning to issue licenses next week! So that would be 86% by Monday…
    Not too bad, Alabama!
    But then there will still be 16 holdouts. https://docs.google.com/spreadsheets/d/1sOMXM59jZ

  • 63. VIRick  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:46 pm

    We're so laid back here, it will probably pass the day after the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality, and thus, be ready for the governor's signature on the next day following. The new governor will sign, too.

  • 64. VIRick  |  February 13, 2015 at 2:51 pm

    Wolf, I did give proper attribution to the source, didn't I?

  • 65. Pat_V  |  February 13, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Oh, and interestingly, this means that we are about at the same level as Kansas! In Kansas apparently 83% of the population live in counties that issue marriage licenses.
    (although, of course the state recognition situation is much better in Alabama)

  • 66. scream4ever  |  February 13, 2015 at 3:36 pm

    Yah reading NOM's tax returns for 2013 the only active state they pumped money into was Illinois (but they did also give some to Indiana to prepare for the amendment fight and also Maryland to cover some costs from the 2012 campaign). This likely is not only due to the fact that they widely expected to lose in the other states but also they were strapped for cash due to a massive decline in donations after having spent nearly everything they had on the 2012 campaigns and the March for Marriage.

  • 67. 1grod  |  February 13, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Equality Alabama: there are now 50 counties issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples (or will be issuing by Wednesday). In one week, Alabama has achieved the same level of availability/state population [80%] as it took Kansas four months to achieve. Re percentage of inclusive counties, Scottie's state is near 20% higher than Kansas!

  • 68. 1grod  |  February 13, 2015 at 5:39 pm

    Of the 17 exclusive counties, the median population if 25,207. There are 3 above 40,000. Walker – 65998, Huston -103668 and Shelby – 204,180. There are 14 counties over 90,000. Why would Shelby choose to stand of that side.

  • 69. 1grod  |  February 13, 2015 at 7:19 pm

    bl and Pat: All agree 50 at the end of the day! The NYT's map you reference [really Freedom to Marry] is time stamped Noon. At 4:00 pm Freedom to Marry said 50 counties. HRC at 4:00 pm concurs with Freedom to Marry. At 4:00 Equality Alabama said 50.. AL.com's 43 is time stamped 1:30, but a 4:30 posting saying "with many of the remaining counties planning to begin early next week. But at least eight counties continue to hold out, refusing to issue licenses or recognize a district court ruling overturning the ban on same-sex marriage". Wikipedia's timestamp "in the morning' placed the number of counties at 51. Rather than this being messy, there seems to be a remarkable agreement at the end of the day. As has been the circumstances all week, it could be said that the number of inclusive counties is growing quickly. Use of established reporting hours thought the day[i.e. 8 am, 12 and 4 pm] seems to be the practice….It will be interesting to see who the 8 holdout includes.

  • 70. Wolf of Raging Fires  |  February 17, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Haha. You did, indeed.

  • 71. 1grod  |  February 17, 2015 at 4:09 pm

    Pat – with Kansas Judicial district # 28 now inclusive, 84% of the state's population can be said to live in 61 inclusive counties . This is 2% less than the percentage of Alabama's population that could be said to live in inclusive counties. http://eqks.org/marriage-update-february-9-2015/

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