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Mother of deceased Alabama man wants to intervene in federal same-sex marriage lawsuit

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Alabama state sealThe mother of an Alabama man who was killed in a car accident in August 2011 in Alabama is seeking to intervene in a federal challenge to the state’s laws barring recognition of same-sex marriages performed elsewhere. The case was brought by Paul Hard, the man’s husband, who wants the ban on recognition of his Massachusetts marriage struck down as unconstitutional.

After his husband, David Fancher, was killed in 2011, a wrongful death lawsuit was brought against trucking companies and a shipping company. The wrongful death case will be tried in court later this year. Under Alabama law, though, Hard is not recognized as Fancher’s surviving spouse or his next of kin, and is not entitled to any of the proceeds from the wrongful death suit. Represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), Hard is suing in federal court to force Alabama to recognize his marriage for purposes of distributing the proceeds from that upcoming trial.

Pat Fancher, the mother of David Fancher, has filed a motion to intervene in the federal challenge to Alabama’s non-recognition provisions. She “has a significant interest in the wrongful death proceeds of her deceased son’s estate being that she is next of kin under Alabama law and the rightful party to receive the potential damages,” her filing suggests. A ruling that required Hard and Fancher’s marriage to be legally recognized by the state “would operate as a detrimental and permanent bar” to recovery of money from the wrongful death suit.

She notes that state officials are primarily concerned with defending the same-sex marriage ban against Constitutional attack, and that she “shares that concern and is deeply disturbed that the death of her son David, whom she deeply loved and with whom she had a good relationship, is being used by Plaintiff Paul Hard to advance the cause of same-sex marriage which she strongly opposes.”

Ms. Fancher is being represented by the Foundation for Moral Law, an organization dedicated “to restore the knowledge of God in law and government and to acknowledge and defend the truth that man is endowed with rights, not by our fellow man, but by God! Please partner with us to achieve this important mission,” according to their website. That organization has filed friend-of-the-court briefs in several high profile cases, including Hollingsworth v. Perry, the challenge to California’s Proposition 8, and United States v. Windsor, the challenge to Section 3 of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). In both cases, the organization supported upholding the anti-gay laws at issue.

In their Perry brief, they wrote in support of what they consider to be a “textual” approach to interpreting the Constitution. The brief argued that the Constitution “does not guarantee a right to same-sex marriage, either explicitly in its language or implicitly in its tone.” Their brief suggests as well that “[a]ccording to the Declaration of Independence, rights are conferred by God, not by courts or legislatures.”

In the group’s Windsor brief, they took issue with the Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Bolling v. Sharpe, striking down school segregation in Washington DC. The Court had held that even though there is no explicit Equal Protection Clause in the Fifth Amendment and the concepts of due process and equal protection are not always interchangeable, “discrimination may be so unjustifiable as to be violative of due process[.]” Although the brief didn’t call for overruling that decision, it heavily criticized the Court’s reasoning: “Indeed, to rule, as the Court did in Bolling—that “due process of law” contains within it an “equal protection” component—is to renderthe true equal protection clause of the Fourteenth Amendment superfluous. If equal protection isimplied in the wording of the Fifth Amendment Due Process, then it would also be implied in the almost identical wording of the Fourteenth Amendment Clause, the only material difference being that the Fourteenth Amendment Due Process Clause expressly applies to the states.” That argument gained no traction in any of the opinions in Windsor.

No federal court has upheld a same-sex marriage ban since a federal district court upheld Nevada’s in Sevcik v. Sandoval in November 2012.

The case is Hard v. Bentley.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings


  • 1. Steve  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:07 am

    Pure evil. What a disgusting woman.

  • 2. Michael Grabow  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:15 am

    “shares that concern and is deeply disturbed that the death of her son David, whom she deeply loved and with whom she had a good relationship, is being used by Plaintiff Paul Hard to advance the cause of same-sex marriage which she strongly opposes.”

    How great could that relationship have been? She should be more concerned with what her son would have wanted instead of her own thoughts on the topic.

    Hopefully Mr. Hard will prevail, he has been through enough already.

  • 3. Corey from Maryland  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:20 am

    He has a serious case in his favor so the mother will be forced to get over it (even if she is kicking and screaming Alabama mean…)

  • 4. Rob  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:23 am

    A vile woman indeed. And these people call themselves Chistians. What was it that Nehru said, "I like your Christ, I don't much like your Christians."

  • 5. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 24, 2014 at 3:54 pm

    The quote is correct (although most don't include the 'but', and also add "Your Christians are so unlike your Christ" to the end of the phrase, but the person to whom most attribute it was the Mahatma Gandhi.

    Many say the quote is an approximation of what Gandhi actually said:
    "Oh, I don’t reject Christ. I love Christ. It’s just that so many of you Christians are so unlike Christ." in response to a question asked by a 'missionary' (Stanley Jones):
    "Mr. Gandhi, though you quote the words of Christ often, why is that you appear to so adamantly reject becoming his follower?"

    Others say the actual wording was along the lines of "I would suggest first of all that all of you Christians, missionaries and all[,] begin to live more like Jesus Christ." This was in response to a question asked by E. Stanley Jones (another 'missionary') who asked Gandhi how Xianity could be 'naturalized' into India.

  • 6. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 24, 2014 at 5:02 pm

    Down votes because it was not the Mahatma Gandhi who most attribute the comment, or because there was an incorrect statement in the above?

    Or were the down votes because I wrote it, and not because of what was stated? If the down votes were because of what was stated, there should have been a post(s) showing exactly what is wrong with what I stated.

    And please note, I stated that MOST people attribute the quote to the Mahatma Gandhi. I did NOT state that the Mahatma Gandhi actually said it. Nehru also might have said it, but if he did, MOST people would say he was quoting the Mahatma Gandhi when he stated it.

  • 7. Rob  |  March 24, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    Mike, you are correct, that quote should have been attributed to Ghandi . For what it's worth, I was writing that just after having a double hernia surgery earlier today and must have still been under anesthesia :). The simple reason I am responding to your post is to try putting this all into perspective and remind you that we're all together in this marriage equality thing. There is no reason to turn on each other or to lecture. Please chill.

  • 8. davep  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:24 am

    Wow, that 'foundation for Moral Law" group sure seems like a bunch of delusional nitwits. It's terrible that she is doing this to her son's surviving partner, but I'm glad she has hitched her claim to those idiots. She will get nothing, except perhaps a humiliating verbal smack-down from the court.

  • 9. Keith  |  March 24, 2014 at 6:16 pm

    The prez of the “foundation” is the wife of Judge Roy S. Moore, the current Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court and the Founder and President Emeritus of the Foundation for Moral Law. He’s the judge who was removed from his post as Chief Justice in 2003 because he refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument.

  • 10. Michael Grabow  |  March 25, 2014 at 6:44 am

    Same guy who is trying/tried to push for a Federal ban on same sex marriage.

  • 11. SoCal_Dave  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:33 am

    She claims the death of her son "is being used" to advance a cause she opposes. Yet she has no problem joining forces with this christianist political group that clearly would have caused harm to her son.
    Jesus said nothing about gays, but plenty about hypocrites.

  • 12. sfbob  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:43 am

    The primary loss she is suffering is in her bank account. Obviously she could give a crap about the son she actually had; she just wants access to his estate while the life he had with his husband and the loss he experienced mean nothing to her. If her son had been married to a woman would she dare to contest the disposition of his assets?

    The "Foundation for Moral [sic] Law's" statement on the Declaration of Independence is interesting: "[R]ights are conferred by God, not by courts or legislatures.” This may indeed be the case, which would provide more reasons why we should not be voting on civil rights. However, note well that such a statement has to be taken into context. Every individual has their own idea as to what a supreme being might be. It is the height of presumptuousness to assume that one's own idea is the "official" one. Groups like these go from that statement to the conclusion that if you believe in God you cannot be accepting of homosexuality. That is a huge leap. Many people who believe in the existence of God believe no such thing at all. The First Amendment to the Constitution is intended to ensure that nobody's religion becomes the state-approved version.

  • 13. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 24, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    The Declaration of Independence.

    A nice, non-legal (in the US), piece of literature. The US Constitution is a legal document, but not the Declaration of Independence.

    Besides, in the Declaration of Independence, the word 'doG' does not appear (except in the form of 'Nature's God' [once]). The word used in the Declaration of Independence is 'Creator' [once].

    The First Amendment says that freedom of religion means I can practice my religion, and you can practice your religion, even if the two religions are incompatible. And just like freedom of speech, there CAN be some restrictions on that freedom, especially when your fist hits my nose. Appropriating 'Nature's God' as your own is an attempt to force everyone to believe as you do, and the First Amendment doesn't allow anyone to do that.

  • 14. Eric  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:49 am

    What a bunch of hypocrites. On the one hand they want a textual interpretation of the Constitution, and on the other hand they want to incorporate the Declaration of Independence, a document drafted over ten years before the Constitution and not even referenced in the Constitution.

  • 15. Jesse  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:51 am

    Maybe it's just me, but I welcome her involvement and for the court to address her concerns. Vile as her intentions are, doesn't it just clearly illustrate the undue harm the LGBT community has to suffer with regards to their unrecognized marriages?

  • 16. Dr. Z  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:58 am

    I was thinking the same thing. What a vivid example of the animus that motivates the anti-equality side.

  • 17. davep  |  March 24, 2014 at 12:05 pm

    Yeah, you're right that this does provide clear evidence for our side in any pending or future marriage equality cases. But still I wouldn't wish this situation on anyone and it's terrible that the surviving spouse is being subjected to this.

  • 18. Jesse  |  March 24, 2014 at 2:49 pm

    You're correct davep, but I think it's a pretty universal truth for any couple whose family disapproves of the marriage that a surviving widow/spouse is tortured.

    I think what's pivotal about this intervention is that this belies why marriage is a specific fundamental right, private to the two individuals. Contrary to traditionalists belief, it wasn't long ago that your marriage was arranged by your parents, and as such you had no protection to their claims of ownership on your assets as a married household.

  • 19. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 24, 2014 at 4:35 pm

    Arranged marriages are still practiced in many societies, and the practice has been introduced into the US as members of those societies have migrated to the US.

    It is not a 'mainstream' practice in the US, but it does exist in the US, and multiple other countries of the world.

  • 20. sfbob  |  March 24, 2014 at 4:44 pm

    I myself am probably, at most, three generations removed from arranged marriages. Both sides of my family come from a Central or Eastern European Jewish background. I know that one of my great-grandparents (the only one I recall from my childhood) came to the US in the late 1800's as the result of an arranged marriage; I presume that my other forbears were the result of such arrangements as well and in fact my father's parents' marriage may very well have been arranged.

  • 21. Steve  |  March 24, 2014 at 6:09 pm

    Fundamentalist Christians in the US practice what are basically arranged marriages where people can say no (which is what some Asian families also do). They call it "courtship"

  • 22. Rose  |  March 24, 2014 at 11:52 am

    She should be denied the right to intervene because she is just out to harm her deceased son's husband which is why these patchwork laws and recognition's need to be done away with………if this had been a "WIFE", she would NOT be doing this!!!

    How could she have had a deep relationship with her son, when she had issues with who he was?

  • 23. Paul Cook-Giles  |  March 24, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Do we know if Mr. Fancher left a will? Her whole case is based on the assertion that "…the administrator must distribute any damages recovered pursuant to Alabama’s laws of intestate succession, even if the decedent died with a will." If there was a will, and it left Mr. Fancher's estate to his husband (and not to his "loving mother"), that would inform her claim that she had a "good relationship" with her son.

  • 24. bayareajohn  |  March 24, 2014 at 1:27 pm

    She lost her son to "the gays" years ago. This is her chance to cash out on the memory of what he wasn't to her.

  • 25. JimT  |  March 24, 2014 at 1:44 pm

    Like I said before, this country was founded as a democracy, not as a theocracy, and with a separation of church and state. It is very unlikely this country would ever really change and base all our laws on religious texts on a "christian god." Pipe dreams are spun frequently by some who are looking to rake in cash. some "causes" are cash cows for a few making salaries and their spending expense accounts to maintain them.

    …" the Foundation for Moral Law, an organization dedicated “to restore the knowledge of God in law and government and to acknowledge and defend the truth that man is endowed with rights, not by our fellow man, but by God! Please partner with us to achieve this important mission,” according to their website."

  • 26. Richard Weatherwax  |  March 24, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I would like to learn more about that "relationship" she had this son she claimed to have "deeply loved." Did she attend his wedding? Did she send a wedding gift? Did she visit him at his home? Did she invite his husband to her home? In other words, did she do the things a loving mother normally does for her children? On the other hand, if she disowned him, what right does she have to anything from him?

  • 27. Fr. Bill  |  March 24, 2014 at 2:09 pm

    When I first got interested in marriage equality, I researched the cases seeking to void mixed race marriages using the anti-miscegenation laws then on the books. Most of these cases were from the South and most of them involved as plaintiffs the relatives of the deceased white spouse seeking to void the marriage to a African-American in order to get the inheritance. Some things never change – human nature and Alabama being two of them.

  • 28. Rick O.  |  March 24, 2014 at 7:40 pm

    If this were in state court rather than federal, I'm pretty sure momma and Mrs. Moore would have a slam dunk case.

  • 29. Wesley Cole  |  March 24, 2014 at 3:29 pm

    She has a place in hell reserved for her right next to Fred Phelps! May she join him soon.

  • 30. Zack12  |  March 24, 2014 at 3:52 pm

    I should be shocked but I'm not. I'm sure we all sadly know couples that this has happened to, it's one of the reasons marriage equality became a bigger issue after the AIDS crisis because gay and lesbian couples had no legal protections for themselves against bigoted family members.
    As for being shocked this mother could do this, look at the marriage equality debates in Indiana, Hawaii, New York etc as well as on the federal level.
    In every state, you will find one or more family members who has a gay or lesbian relative they claim to love yet they stand in the way of marriage equality or fight for bans.
    NOthing is going to change some of these folks, it's just the way it is.

  • 31. Nyx  |  March 24, 2014 at 8:13 pm


    “I should be shocked but I'm not. I'm sure we all sadly know couples that this has happened to, it's one of the reasons marriage equality became a bigger issue after the AIDS crisis because gay and lesbian couples had no legal protections for themselves against bigoted family members.”

    …the battle for the South has truly begun….

  • 32. KarlS  |  March 24, 2014 at 3:59 pm

    The Foundation for Moral Law…? Wasn't that covered pretty well in the Robin Williams movie "The Birdcage"? The outfit whose founder was found dead in bed with an underage black prostitute, if memory serves. (Yes, it's not quite the same name but I don't mind if you don't…hahahaha)

  • 33. RobW303  |  March 24, 2014 at 6:03 pm

    A perfect demonstration of animus.

  • 34. Zack12  |  March 24, 2014 at 7:21 pm

    THis isn't the first time a greedy family has tried to swoop in but straight couples that get married have legal protections that this poor man doesn't, hence why he's suing.

  • 35. Michael  |  March 24, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    What a despicable, horrible, sinful mother! Her personal sins of homophobia and money lust are more important than her son's family! Do these immoral anti-gay activists have any shame?

  • 36. Marriage Equality Round-U&hellip  |  March 25, 2014 at 7:43 am

    […] USA, Alabama: A woman who’s son was killed in a car crash wants to intervene in a lawsuit that seeks to recognize her son’s marriage to another man. The mother is afraid that would mean she would lose out on the insurance money from the accident. Lovely. full story […]

  • 37. CarrotCakeMan  |  March 25, 2014 at 9:12 am

    I've just read a review of a play this "mother" should be forced to attend:

  • 38. Policy and Legal Update &&hellip  |  March 31, 2014 at 7:00 am

    […] ALABAMA • On 20 March 2014, in Paul Hard v. AL Governor Robert Bentley, et al., a federal lawsuit to: (1) overturn the 1998 AL law and the 2005 AL constitutional amendment which ban same-gender civil marriage; (2) issue a revised Death Certificate for Charles Fancher showing Paul Hard as the surviving spouse, based on their 2011 MA marriage; and (3) disburse the proceeds of a wrongful death suit to Paul Hard, Ms. Pat Fancher, mother of Charles Fancher, asked to intervene because (a) she opposes same-gender civil marriage; and (b) she wants to remain her deceased son’s next of kin and receive all the wrongful death proceeds of his estate.  •  MEUSA Summary  •  News Source […]

  • 39. Equality On TrialFederal &hellip  |  March 31, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    […] Attribution: Michael KukulskiA federal district court judge has granted the motion to intervene filed by an anti-LGBT organization in a challenge to Alabama’s prohibition on recognition of same-sex marriages performed […]

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