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Alabama widower won’t oppose anti-LGBT legal organization’s request to intervene in same-sex marriage case

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David Fancher and Paul Hard. Attribution: Michael Kukulski
David Fancher and Paul Hard. Attribution: Michael Kukulski
A federal district court in Alabama has ordered all parties to the same-sex marriage marriage case to file a brief explaining why Pat Fancher, the mother of David Fancher, should not be allowed to intervene in the challenge. The filings are all due on Friday, March 28.

The case was filed by the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) on behalf of Paul Hard, a widower who lost his husband, David Fancher, in a car accident that led to a wrongful death lawsuit filed against trucking and shipping companies. The couple are residents of Alabama, and they were married in Massachusetts; Alabama refuses to recognize their marriage as legal. Under Alabama law, Hard is not entitled to the proceeds from the wrongful death suit unless he’s recognized as the husband, so he filed this lawsuit to have that portion of the state’s same-sex marriage ban struck down.

Ms. Fancher sought to intervene in the case to represent her interests in the proceeds from the wrongful death lawsuit. She’s represented by the Foundation for Moral Law, an anti-LGBT organization based in Alabama, with a history of filing friend-of-the-court briefs in federal court challenges in opposition to marriage equality for same-sex couples. Roy Moore, the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, is President Emeritus of the organization, and his wife Kayla Moore is the current president. Roy Moore has recently pushed for a federal Constitutional amendment barring same-sex couples from marriage.

The group’s motion to intervene noted that Ms. Fancher “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.”

So far, only the SPLC has filed a response to the request: they, and Hard, won’t oppose her involvement in the case.

Hard v. Bentley is still in its early stages. Answers to the initial complaint have been filed by Governor Bentley and Attorney General Strange as well as Probate Judge Steven Reed of Montgomery County. These are initial responses to the plaintiff’s claims. After the other responses to the judge’s order are filed Friday, a ruling is expected on the motion to intervene.

Thanks to Kathleen Perrin for these filings


  • 1. David in London  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:53 am

    Who is she trying to kid? If the husband isn't next of kin she suddenly becomes entitled to a huge amount of cash, leaving the heartbroken husband to fend for himself on top of coping with grief. This is exactly WHY the marriages of same-sex couples need to be legally recognised, to prevent preying blood relatives who can never accept they have a gay or lesbian family member imposing their bigoted agendas onto the lives and deaths of their survivors.

    I'm glad it's included in the case. I want the judge to recognise the importance of this when they make their ruling.

  • 2. Zack12  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:58 am

    This is why the push for marriage equality started to happen in the 80's during the AIDS crisis.
    Surviving partners of AIDS victims were thrown out of their homes and lost everything to bigoted or greedy family members.
    I've had a couple of friends this has happened to despite having all the documents that were supposed to protect them. The only friend it didn't happen to was legally married in CT so her wife's bigoted family was out of luck.
    This woman doesn't care about her son, only the $$$ she'll get.

  • 3. aaron  |  March 26, 2014 at 11:01 am

    Would Moore recused himself?

  • 4. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 26, 2014 at 11:16 am

    It's in federal court, and Moore is on the state supreme court, so he won't be involved.

  • 5. Inis_Magrath  |  March 26, 2014 at 12:15 pm

    Thank goodness!

  • 6. montezuma58  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:10 pm

    Remember there are two cases. The wrongful death suit and Hard's suit challenging AL's non recognition of his marriage. I know nothing of the particulars of the wrongful death suit. But those are usually state cases.

    If it did manage to reach Moore's court I would bet the house he would not recuse himself. The guy has no respect for the courts. As with his 10 commandments stunt he'll ignore any ethical or legal requirements and force the other justices to vote him out (again).

  • 7. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:33 pm

    That's true and the wrongful death lawsuit is in state court. The trial is set for I think June.

    I think in terms of the wrongful death lawsuit, though, the only real issue involving LGBT rights is whether his marriage is recognized. If this federal lawsuit ends up requiring recognition of his marriage, there's nothing the state courts, or even the state supreme court, can do about that.

    In other words the Alabama state court will only be concerned with whether the companies being sued are responsible for his death, and the jury will have to decide whether to award punitive damages. I don't think his marriage would enter into it at the state level, except that if he wins money in the case it would go to him if his marriage has to be recognized under the federal Constitution. So I don't think recusal will necessarily be an issue here. Moore might not like marriage equality, but that specific issue won't be in his court.

  • 8. montezuma58  |  March 26, 2014 at 3:57 pm

    Probably unlikely the case would end up in the AL Supreme Court. Usually these things get settled without a trial. In AL most of the time the SC gets involved is to tone down outrageous judgments.

    His wife's involvement in the federal case should be enough for Moore to recuse himself regardless of his views or the side his wife is on. But that just ain't how Moore operates. Moore would make it circus of the case if by chance did end up in his court.

    I'm an Alabama resident. I've had a serious hate on for Moore since the 90s. I've voted in Republican primaries a couple of times just to vote against him.

  • 9. Scottie Thomaston  |  March 26, 2014 at 4:00 pm

    I am too! 🙂 That's why I keep trying to do a lot on this case. It's really important. I've never voted GOP but I understand about primarying him out.

  • 10. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 27, 2014 at 7:39 pm

    One thing about anti-GLBT bigots like Moore – they get or stay involved, even when the details of the case have nothing to do with GLBT rights. They invent reasons, if necessary, to be involved.

    In many ways, it's like Michigan's Governor Snyder's opinion – "The marriages performed on Saturday in Michigan are legal, but they are not, because I say they are not."

  • 11. Warren  |  March 26, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    Just like Windsor suffered damages due to the Feds not recognizing her marriage, Paul Hard is suffering damages due to Alabama not recognizing his marriage. What is Alabama's rational reason not to recognize legally married homosexual couples from other states?

  • 12. Jesse  |  March 26, 2014 at 10:14 pm

    This case seems ripe to go to SCOTUS for article 2 of DOMA.

  • 13. John  |  March 27, 2014 at 11:36 am

    Article 2 of DOMA doesn't do anything. It's a permissive statute. Take it away, and AL still wouldn't be force to recognize same-sex couples.

  • 14. Mike in Baltimore  |  March 27, 2014 at 7:52 pm

    IMO, Alabama would be on MUCH stronger legal ground if it didn't accept ANY marriages performed outside the state. Because it accepts marriages performed outside the state (with almost no restrictions) almost every day, it is on extremely weak ground when it rejects certain marriages performed outside the state, IMO.

  • 15. StraightDave  |  March 27, 2014 at 9:34 pm

    Virtually every other state is in the same boat. It only takes one of them to blow the rest all away. It might just as well be Alabama, one of the original hate factories.
    I think it's much more likely that a state recognition case makes it to SCOTUS in early 2015 than a true ME case. State recognition is such a close cousin to Windsor, it's almost inevitable and will probably feel like a smaller step to the "Law Lords".

  • 16. Ragavendran  |  March 27, 2014 at 9:50 pm

    I agree. Take Obergefell, for example, from Ohio. Recognition only on death certificates. Very narrow issue, and so will likely be voted to be taken by the liberal four, if not more.

  • 17. sfbob  |  March 27, 2014 at 9:39 pm

    Indeed. While they will no doubt attempt to point to the state anti-equality amendment to support a claim that they are not required to recognize certain out-of-state marriages based on the public policy exception, they're going to be hard-pressed to justify such a narrow application of that exception. As it is, the only justification a state can garner for refusing to recognize an out-of-state marriage of a same-sex couple when it regularly recognizes the marriages of couples similarly situated except regarding the genders of the two married individuals, it boils down to "because we don't want to." And that is not something the courts are any longer willing to accept.

  • 18. Klaus  |  March 26, 2014 at 9:55 pm

    A federal district court in Alabama has ordered all parties to the same-sex marriage marriage case to file a brief explaining why Pat Fancher, the mother of David Fancher, should not be allowed to intervene in the challenge.

    How about, "Because she's a greedy bigot who shames the memory of her dead son with this evilness?"

  • 19. Equality On TrialFederal &hellip  |  August 7, 2014 at 1:54 am

    […] EqualityOnTrial has previously noted, no party to the case opposed the request, and permission to intervene is usually granted if the […]

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