John M. Becker

Alabama Judge Again Strikes Down Marriage Discrimination

Filed By John M. Becker | January 27, 2015 3:30 PM | comments

Filed in: Living, Marriage Equality
Tags: Alabama, gay marriage, marriage equality, same-sex marriage

strawser-humphrey-alabama-couple.jpgFor the second time in four days, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, an appointee of George W. Bush, has struck down the state's marriage discrimination amendment. Last week's case involved a same-sex couple seeking to force Alabama to recognize their legal marriage from another state, but the couple in this case (pictured at right) is suing Alabama for the right to marry in the Yellowhammer State itself.

The Birmingham News reports:

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade, who on Friday declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, ruled on Monday in favor of James Strawser and John Humphrey in a separate case. The Alabama Attorney General's Office immediately vowed to appeal.

Humphrey, 38, said he did not have the highest level of confidence when he and Strawser filed the federal lawsuit in September. Alabama is a conservative state, he noted, and the couple did not even have a lawyer.

"I am just ecstatically pleased. We didn't realize it would be so soon and did not even think she would consider it," Humphrey said. "This is the Bible Belt for Christ sake."

That's right -- the couple didn't even have a lawyer, but they won their case anyway. Amazing, isn't it? According to Freedom to Marry, this is the 61st pro-marriage equality court ruling since June 26, 2013, when the U.S. Supreme Court gutted the so-called "Defense of Marriage Act" in its landmark decision in United States v. Windsor. (Today's full ruling is below, via Equality Case Files.)

More, after the break.

Back in Alabama, Judge Granade stayed her ruling until February 9 to give the state time to file an appeal with the 11th Circuit -- just as she did last week. The 11th Circuit denied a similar stay request from Florida in December, but that was before the U.S. Supreme Court announced it would take up marriage equality issue this spring.

It's worth pointing out that today's decision utterly invalidates the claim, put forth by anti-gay Alabama judges, that they won't have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples once Judge Granade's stay expires.

Zack Ford of ThinkProgress, who was the first to spot this, writes:

Over the weekend, the Alabama Probate Judges Association was adamant that judges would not have to issue marriage licenses because the first decision only enjoined the Attorney General from enforcing the state's ban. The new injunction eliminates any confusion:

"Accordingly, the court hereby ORDERS that the Alabama Attorney General is prohibited from enforcing the Alabama laws which prohibit same-sex marriage. This injunction binds the defendant and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit same-sex marriage."

That's right: if the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court both decline to extend Judge Granade's stay, marriage equality will come to Alabama on February 9.

In related news -- as mentioned above, the Alabama couple who just won this victory for the state's LGBT community doesn't have a lawyer. They've launched a GoFundMe page in the hopes of raising enough money to hire one, which would definitely be helpful in federal appeals court. Click here for more information.

The couple who won Friday's victory, Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, is also hoping to raise funds to offset the $40,000 in legal bills they've accumulated during their fight for marriage recognition in Alabama. Click here for more information.

Today's Decision

1:14-cv-00424 #29 - Order by Equality Case Files

Image via Twitter.

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