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Alabama tries to stall same-sex marriage ruling again

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Last week, we reported on a new attempt by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR) and several organizations to ask a federal judge to certify all same-sex couples in Alabama who want to marry as a class, and all Alabama probate judges as defendants. The groups want to make the Strawser case a class-action that would apply across all Alabama counties.

Alabama’s attorney general has filed a brief in opposition to the new action. His view can be condensed to “wait and see”: “[T]he court should wait for the outcome of the United States Supreme Court’s ruling on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage.”

This would prevent same-sex couples from getting married in Alabama again until after the US Supreme Court’s decision, likely in late June.

The Attorney General issued a statement on the new filing:

(Montgomery) Attorney General Luther Strange today asked the Mobile federal court to reject efforts to suddenly change a same-sex marriage lawsuit that already has been ruled upon, urging the Court not to allow the case to be certified as a class action that would force all of Alabama’s 68 probate judges to grant same-sex marriage licenses.

Attorney General Strange called upon U.S. District Judge Callie Granade to deny a motion filed by plaintiffs in the case of Strawser and Humphrey v. Strange. The Attorney General said the Court should take no further action as the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve the issue of same-sex marriage in June.

The Attorney General’s motion noted that the original federal court decision has predictably created unnecessary chaos in courthouses across the state.

“When this court enjoined Attorney General Strange from enforcing Alabama’s marriage laws to the extent those laws prohibited ‘same-sex marriage,’ Attorney General Strange immediately moved for a stay…Among other grounds, Attorney General Strange argued that a fundamental redefinition of marriage in Alabama without the benefit of full appellate review would lead to chaos, confusion, and additional litigation that could be avoided if the Court’s orders were simply stayed a few months until the United States Supreme Court resolved the issue.”

“Since then, the number and rate of developments has been dizzying as officials came to different conclusions about their legal obligations and as parties tried to intervene in the initial cases and bring other officials under the Court’s injunction,” the Attorney General’s motion added.

“The Court should not further undermine the relationship between the state and federal courts by granting Plaintiffs leave to drastically change the nature of this case at this late date. Granting the relief the Plaintiffs seek will only add to all the chaos and confusion in Alabama, and will only increase the tension between the state and federal courts.”

“The only wise and judicious course of action is to deny the motion to amend and wait until June when the United States Supreme Court will resolve the constitutionality of same sex marriage in a way that will be binding on all federal judges and all state officials.”

Judge Granade has not yet taken any action on the new filings.

Thanks to Equality Case Files for these filings


  • 1. A_Jayne  |  March 10, 2015 at 8:38 am

    "When this court enjoined Attorney General Strange from enforcing Alabama’s marriage laws to the extent those laws prohibited ‘same-sex marriage,’ Attorney General Strange immediately moved for a stay"

    "Since then, the number and rate of developments has been dizzying as officials came to different conclusions"

    Interesting that the one thing he didn't say was the SCOTUS denied his request for a stay of that ruling. Will Judge Granade remind him that his failure to mention it doesn't change that truth?

  • 2. Elihu_Bystander  |  March 10, 2015 at 9:04 am

    "Interesting that the one thing he didn't say was the SCOTUS denied his request for a stay of that ruling. Will Judge Granade remind him that his failure to mention it doesn't change that truth?

    Actually he did say SCOTUS denied his request.

    "This Court denied Attorney General Strange’s motion except for a two-week stay to
    permit him to seek stays from the Eleventh Circuit and Supreme Court, which were unsuccessful. This Court’s orders went into effect on February 9, 2015."

  • 3. A_Jayne  |  March 10, 2015 at 9:10 am

    (Embarrassed grin) I didn't read the whole thing, obviously, just what Scottie had posted here. Thank you for the correction.

  • 4. Amy8889  |  March 10, 2015 at 10:13 am

    Well said.<img src="; style="display:none">

  • 5. 1grod  |  March 10, 2015 at 12:14 pm

    Elihu – while Judge Don Davis claims to be facing a dilemma of his own making, in asking for a stay in SearcyII, the plaintiff's do not offer him a way of escape: bit the bullet.

  • 6. Elihu_Bystander  |  March 10, 2015 at 3:03 pm

    Agreed and appropriately so.

  • 7. sfbob  |  March 10, 2015 at 3:20 pm

    Interesting brief and the argument is quite compelling. Davis was ordered not to in any way enforce the state's "Sanctity of Marriage" laws and yet by making the adoption order conditional upon the US Supreme Court's resolution of the Sixth Circuit cases he has clearly violated that order. I hope Judge Granade throws the book at him.

    I hate to note this but there are some obvious errors in it, for example at the top of page 22 the brief clearly intends to align the interests of the children of "same-sex couples" with the interests of the children of "opposite-sex couples" but inadvertently repeats the expression "same-sex couples" instead. There are other similar errors. Of course any reasonable person will be able to understand the argument from context but it is a bit embarrassing that the plaintiffs' counsel didn't do a better job of proofreading and I wouldn't be at all surprised if Judge Davis' counsel tries to make an issue out of those infelicitous statements.

  • 8. aakalan2  |  March 10, 2015 at 10:36 am

    You are exactly right. They were denied a stay all the way up to the Supreme Court. They warned of "inevitable confusion" that would result if stay denied.

    It was denied. So they needed to create confusion, as a self-fulfilling prophecy, because (and this is how stupid they are) they really believe that they will be given a second bite at the apple because they were "right".

    Unfortunately for these dolts, it doesn't work that way. Granade will shut them down, but good. She has the power to make a class out of the plaintiffs and a class out of all Probate judges in the state. Once she does that (and there's no one to stop her), she can hold every Probate judge in the state in contempt, fine them, threaten to arrest them. Let's see how crazy the Alabama Supreme Court really is when the U. S. Marshals show up to cart away the judges in handcuffs.

    Think it won't happen? Just remember George Wallace, at the point of a gun, ordered off the schoolhouse steps. It seems that brute force is the only thing Alabama understands. They certainly don't understand (or care to understand) the Constitution.

  • 9. 1grod  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:31 am

    aakalan: Dolts or not, timing is everything and it is not on Chief Judge Moore's side. The behaviour of Alabama judicial system is referenced in more than one amicus brief such as… pg 18 Also Virginia amicus brief p 33: "But it is indisputable that whenever such conflicts arise, the Fourteenth Amendment trumps federalism. The Fourteenth Amendment was “specifically designed as an expansion of federal power and an intrusion on state sovereignty.” Brute force in this circumstance is unnecessary. In 3 months, the Supreme Court will have spoken.

  • 10. RQO  |  March 10, 2015 at 9:08 am

    The "hold up everything till SCOTUS rules" is the usual fallback position of Republican AGs – saw it in Colorado, though he folded after 10th CA appeal denied Oct. 6.
    Bit of good news in CO, due SOLELY to the D's retaining a one vote lead in the House. Yesterday two "bigotry freedom" bills were killed in committee. The one written by the rabidly anti gay whackadoodle Gordon Klingenschmidt (google him) didn't even get all R's on board. The other, failed 7-4 and I'm still trying to find out if their was one R nay, so I can thank them – was a carbon copy of the Georgia legislation redefining "Burden" and "compelling government interest". Stinks of Focus on the Family down in Colorado Springs. Always amazed these people can't see these laws can cut both ways.

  • 11. D.Henderson-Rinehart  |  March 10, 2015 at 9:35 am

    One of the bills failed 7-4 (one Republican voted against it), and the other one failed 9-2 (three Republicans voted against it). Rep. Dan Thurlow (Grand Junction) voted against both bills, and Reps. Jack Tate (Centennial) and Yeulin Willett (Grand Junction) voted against one of the two.

    See this article for more information:

  • 12. RQO  |  March 10, 2015 at 10:03 am

    Wow, THANKS, D. – I was still waiting on the Denver Post and my Rep's office, and One Colorado, for info. Thurlow definitely gets a thank you note from me. So does Durango Herald. For non-Coloradans, this mean 3 R's voted against the rabid skunk bill, and 1 voted against the sneaky Georgia trying to redefine civil law bill.
    (And I'll plug Durango more even if I'm on the Eastern slope- it is about the most remote nowhere in the lower 48, but you can get – tricky at over 6,000 feet – the best french bread outside of Paris or Lyon. Plus the scenery is gorgeous. Forget Venice – see the San Juans and die.

  • 13. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 12:29 pm

    Yeah, a little bit of good news from Colorado……Jack MUST be totally upset that he WON'T be allowed to use his religious beliefs to discriminate in the future.

  • 14. RQO  |  March 10, 2015 at 9:25 am

    Oh – I said "carbon copy". this "carbon dates" me. Turned 60 and remember George Wallace and Lester Maddox on TV (balck and white).

  • 15. A_Jayne  |  March 10, 2015 at 9:28 am

    Yeah, but…

    "Carbon copy" doesn't really mean carbon anymore – "cc:" is even offered in email, a non-carbon environment…


  • 16. dlejrmex  |  March 10, 2015 at 10:54 am

    I believe that "cc" is now considered, for email at least, to be courtesy copy… I have been around for both definitions too.

  • 17. A_Jayne  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:01 am

    I've never heard the phrase "courtesy copy," and my boss would not appreciate me thinking that a cc: to her on emails I sent to clients is just a courtesy on my part…

  • 18. hopalongcassidy  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:12 am

    I've never heard of it either. Actually, I still have a few boxes of real actual carbon paper way down in the bottom of my desk! However no typewriter to put it in. 😉

  • 19. A_Jayne  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I've converted the use for mine to trace pictures on pieces of wood I want to carve. Works great!

  • 20. Mike_Baltimore  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:30 am

    At one time, my office required a dot-matrix printer, because we wrote out our Purchase Orders in an original and six copies. There was a 'carbon' paper between the original and copies, and 'carbon' paper between each of the copies. ('Carbon' meaning a substance that is capable of reproducing to additional copies the original mark made.)

    An advantage to 'carbon' or carbon-like copies is that they usually didn't fade as fast as most photoelectric copies (think Xerox-like copies), especially fax copies (especially the real old style with the spinning drum).

  • 21. Mike_Baltimore  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:11 am

    Some have tried to change the definition of the email 'cc' to mean something other than 'carbon copy'.

    IMO, all they are succeeding in doing is making people concentrate on what 'cc' means, especially the original meaning of the word.

  • 22. aakalan2  |  March 10, 2015 at 10:28 am

    Immediately upon the Federal District Court's ruling that Alabama's bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional, the A/G (Luther Strange) petitioned for a stay based on the "confusion" that would result if the ruling was allowed to go forward.

    The state was turned down by the Federal District Court. The 11th Circuit Appellate Court also refused a stay. He petitioned the Supreme Court and the Court refused to stay same-sex marriage in their state. So they concocted this whole bogus "confusion" thing by creating confusion, and then groveling on their hands and knees back to Judge Granade to "please not make us do this right now", it causes soooo much confusion, essentially demanding the stay that has already been denied.

    The whole damned thing was a put-up job to twist the arm of the Federal Judiciary to give them what they demanded and were denied.

    As far as a stay is concerned, the Supreme Court is the FINAL WORD, and it has already given it. This whole pathetic charade by the state boils down to a massive contempt of court so they can posture for their bigoted backwoods voters.

    I can't wait to see the feds slap them down, and it's coming, sooner than later, I promise you. It's not nice to piss off the Feds – they've got the guns (and missiles and nukes and drones and tanks and destroyers and bombers and fighters) and they've got control of the banks. And it's particularly stupid if your whole state is a welfare client dependent upon the largesse of the more successful "librul" states you so despise. Last time, the feds put a gun (literally) to the head of a former Alabama governor. This time, they should just turn off the lights across the state, stop all Federal payments and wait for these immature children to stop having a temper tantrum and start behaving like adult American citizens.

  • 23. 1grod  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:43 am

    aakalan – when you consider the 51/67 counties (76%) and gathering momentum were in compliance, in a few short days and the populous were more or less indifferent, your characterization of the State seems an over generalization and your solutions – turning off the heat and lights at its mildest – is hardly charitable to fellow Americans who had sleet last week. Are you sure you are not of Canadian Prime Minister Stephen Harper's elk on route to Florida for March break? Waiting out a temper tantrum is sound advice. You must have raised teenagers!

  • 24. NetAmigo  |  March 10, 2015 at 10:43 am

    Basically, the 5th, 8th and 11th circuits are still in play for marriage equality. The 5th and 8th circuits have been granting stays on their district court marriage law injunctions. The 11th circuit has refused such stay requests and so has the Supreme Court when the question has reached it. Interestingly, though, the 11th circuit has stayed further action otherwise on any cases coming to it until the Supreme Court rules on the pending 6th circuit case. So far, plaintiffs are not appealing to the Supreme Court when the 5th and 8th circuits grant stays. Both the 5th and 8th circuits are processing cases otherwise that come to them. It would be interesting to see how the Supreme Court would rule if plaintiffs asked for lifting a stay from the 5th or 8th circuits.

  • 25. D.Henderson-Rinehart  |  March 10, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    Don't forget the 1st Circuit, with the appeal from Puerto Rico!

  • 26. NetAmigo  |  March 10, 2015 at 3:00 pm

    The 1st Circuit case has no injunction as the decision upheld the marriage laws.

  • 27. guitaristbl  |  March 10, 2015 at 11:34 am

    "The Court should not further undermine the relationship between the state and federal courts by granting Plaintiffs leave to drastically change the nature of this case at this late date."

    It was NOT the federal court who underminded this relationship in first place. The federal court has always acted within the law, following appropriate action and showing judicial ethics. It is NOT the federal court who should be intimidated to back down here, since its decision on the matter of the stay has been embraced and affirmed by the highest court of the land. In such a showdown the one who needs to back up, is the one who acted illegally and abused the judicial process. Granade should turn it into a class action and rule as soon as possible.

  • 28. 1grod  |  March 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    bl: Rule as soon as possible. Agree imho, Judge Granada needs to act before the State Supreme Court does so, as Liberty Council is encouraging them to do. Or is that advice imprudent because her jurisdiction is only the Southern District. AG counsels Judge Granada to hear out the probate judges before deciding.

  • 29. BillinNO  |  March 10, 2015 at 12:12 pm

    “The Court should not further undermine the relationship between the state and federal courts by granting Plaintiffs leave to drastically change the nature of this case at this late date." Way to hector the court 🙂

  • 30. mjnichol  |  March 10, 2015 at 12:23 pm

    Denying someone's constitutional rights is a far more egregious consequence than "confusion" or "tension between state and federal courts". This AG is grasping at straws.

  • 31. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 1:24 pm

    So, a little off topic, but just as important is the florist from Washington:

    My issue with this florist and the other folks who have used their religious beliefs to discriminate is that if these beliefs are TRULY deeply rooted, then why do these same individuals NOT use them against heterosexual couples who are on their third marriage, or have committed adultery or have fornicated before marriage or have a child outside of marriage……see, their supposedly deeply held religious beliefs are ONLY be used to harm Gays and Lesbians…….and that's why these idiots continue to LOSE!!!

  • 32. weaverbear  |  March 10, 2015 at 2:03 pm

    Well put Rose, well put.

    BTW, while our wedding was somewhat humble, in the gazebo, out behind the house, we did have a wedding cake (two of them actually, as we had more guests than originally planned) and the response from our baker when she was told it was for two grooms and we would provide the cake topper? "Cool! I was wondering how soon I would get to do a same sex wedding cake."

    And you know what? It looked like a wedding cake.

    No lesbian or gay frosting. No lavender or rainbow colored filling. No queer cake batter or transgendered eggs in the making of it. The only thing gay about the cake was that his hand rested on top of mine in making the first cut.

    And our baker didn't attend the service, although we made it clear she would be welcomed, if she did.

  • 33. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 2:13 pm

    When my wife and I got married in August of 2008, we did most of the work ourselves as far as decorations went. We had a wonderful man from the UUC marry us and followed our wedding ceremony to how Lee had set it up. We had some who wouldn't officiate at our wedding, but that was okay and we found the one who best suited us. I had a former co-worker of mine, who was working at Safeway tell me about one of her co-worker's who was a baker, we called him and he made our wedding cake specifically as we asked, Top layer was a spice cake, middle tier was a German Chocolate and the bottom was a Red Velvet. He made cute lil anchors on the side because my wife asked him to because of my service and both him and his business partner delivered the cake, set it up with our wedding topper and stayed for the ceremony and reception……..and you'd NEVER guess what the cake looked like…….it was a three tier, different flavors, white frosting and NOTHING said it was for a wedding with two Lesbians on it……imagine that…….lol!!!

  • 34. weaverbear  |  March 10, 2015 at 2:38 pm

    We had a Quaker wedding service, which normally doesn't have an officiant, but as there wasn't adequate time to go through the standard process of asking our Friends Meetings for their clearness (we belong to different Meetings and had we gone the traditional route for Friends, we would have been bumping up against the election in November), we had a wedding after the manner of Friends and had a friend who held a Universal Life Ministry certificate sign off on our license to make the whole thing legal. we pulled the whole thing together in just under 3 weeks and got married the 3rd Sunday in July, which was incidentally the 27th anniversary of when we met, 60 people in attendance.

    What I learned that day was just how meaningful getting married can be. I did not think I could love him any more than I already did. I was wrong.

    Oh and, one cake was lemon with a blueberry filling, and the other chocolate with raspberry..

  • 35. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 2:52 pm

    It's simply amazing how getting married makes one feel. When I came out of the building with my sister who stood in with me, she also sang our wedding song as Lee walked down the isle, I was a nervous wreck……I thought for certain that everyone could see me visibly shake…….the ceremony was wonderful,except that it was like a 116 degrees outside and our wax candles started to wilt before lighting our unity candle, which looked something like this one:

    The inscription was different and we filled it with an oil that was close to our wedding colors.

    After the pronouncement, it was like a wave of relief because we made it through without falling or panicking……lol

  • 36. ianbirmingham  |  March 10, 2015 at 2:22 pm

    The federal district court should:

    a) grant the class action motion

    b) find probate judges in contempt wherever valid evidence of refusing same-sex marriage applications exists, and

    c) fine probate judges $1,000 per refused application (one application per couple per day)

    Then: let the media coverage of same-sex couples queueing up every day to inflict additional $1,000 fines begin 🙂

  • 37. F_Young  |  March 10, 2015 at 2:28 pm

    Slovenia becomes 11th EU nation to approve gay marriage

    So, it's official now. Alabama, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, North Dakota and Ohio are more backward than Slovenia, assuming the president signs the new law,

  • 38. jpmassar  |  March 10, 2015 at 3:19 pm


    Support for gay marriage has risen to an all-time high in the latest Wall Street Journal/NBC News poll, reinforcing it as one of the fastest-moving changes in social attitudes of this generation.

    The new survey found that 59% of Americans support allowing same-sex marriage, nearly double the 30% support reported in 2004.

    Support has grown markedly for gay marriage among Hispanics, women and people who lack college degrees, among other demographic groups. Opposition among conservatives has lessened: Some 35% of conservatives supported gay marriage in March, up from 26% in April, 2013

  • 39. jpmassar  |  March 10, 2015 at 3:26 pm


    A new class-action lawsuit has been filed seeking an end to recoupment of Social Security benefits given to married same-sex couples after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the Defense of Marriage Act.

    The lawsuit, Held v. Colvin, was filed by the New England-based Gay & Lesbian Advocates & Defenders, Justice for Aging and the D.C.-based law firm Foley Hoag LLP against the Social Security Administration on behalf of same-sex couples forced to repay Social Security benefits — or those who will be forced to repay them — on the basis of the court ruling against DOMA.

  • 40. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 4:50 pm

    My wife was denied SSI because she is married to me and believe this, I make to much money, even though I am on SSDI…….we don't like the ruling, but there is not much we can do about and right now, I'm glad we don't have any OVER-PAYMENT.

  • 41. guitaristbl  |  March 10, 2015 at 4:26 pm

    I am starting to believe that the Oklahoma legislature did not consider any other bills this legislative session other than reactionary bills to marriage equality honestly :

    This will take a federal lawsuit challenging it from a (not even same-sex) atheist couple and it will go down in flames imo. The problem with the very imaginative oklahoma bills is that they are the easier to fall under constitutional scrutiny.

  • 42. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 4:32 pm

    You're talking about the bill to remove the State from the marriage business and handing it to the Church. right? Yeah, that bill is totally UNCONSTITUTIONAL because the Church or Clergy can deny ANY couple their FUNDAMENTAL right to marry.

    These Legislators also opted to end AP History classes and teach the 10 Commandments and Reagan Speeches in the classroom…….this State has to be one of the DUMBEST around.

  • 43. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 4:36 pm

    Here's another stupid things parents do to their children:

  • 44. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 4:38 pm

    More from the State of Oklahoma:

    And more:

  • 45. RnL2008  |  March 10, 2015 at 4:45 pm

    And the florist in Washington refuses to settle with the AG:

  • 46. JeffnRob  |  March 10, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Oklahoma Rep. proposes pointed amendment to anti-gay bill.

    Oklahoma City – Representative Emily Virgin, in consultation with Freedom Oklahoma and the ACLU of Oklahoma, has proposed an amendment to HB 1371 – “The Oklahoma Religious Freedom Act.” This bill would allow businesses operating in the marriage industry to discriminate based on their religious beliefs.Representative Virgin’s amendment would save minority couples from facing the indignity of being refused service by requiring a public posting of the refusal of service to specific members of the community.

    Language of the amendment: "B. Any person not wanting to participate in any of the activities set forth in subsection A of this section based on sexual orientation, gender identity or race of either party to the marriage shall post notice of such refusal in a manner clearly visible to the public in all places of business, including websites. The notice may refer to the person’s religious beliefs, but shall state specifically which couples the business does not serve by referring to a refusal based upon sexual orientation, gender identity or race."

    “Thank you to Representative Virgin for calling out the level of segregation allowed under this legislation," said Troy Stevenson, Executive Director of LGBT advocacy group Freedom Oklahoma. "If the state of Oklahoma is going to protect discrimination, then at the very least, businesses should be required to own their bias, and post it publicly for the world to see.”

    “Representative Virgin’s amendment very pointedly exposes the absurdity of creating a new era of legalized segregation,” ACLU of Oklahoma Director, Ryan Kiesel.

  • 47. Eric  |  March 10, 2015 at 7:43 pm

    They can get back out their "No Jews, No negros, No Irish" signs.

  • 48. F_Young  |  March 11, 2015 at 3:28 am

    Alabama's Gay-Marriage Standoff Deserves a Ruling

  • 49. 1grod  |  March 11, 2015 at 3:55 am

    F_ : Noah Feldman, the Bloomberg View columnist of this interesting article, is a professor of constitutional and international law at Harvard University and an author. His take is for Judge Granada to certify the class action against a class of defendants and rule. While he envisages involvement of the 11th Circuit Appeals Court, he did not suggest was a stay to permit the 11 Circuit Appeals Court to Rule. She need not put a time limitation on her stay. Clever

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