John M. Becker

AL Minister Arrested After Offering to Perform Same-Sex Marriage

Filed By John M. Becker | February 10, 2015 4:00 PM | comments

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

alabama.jpgAn Alabama minister was arrested and charged with a misdemeanor this morning after she offered to officiate at a same-sex wedding inside a probate judge's office, the Montgomery Advertiser reports:

An Autauga County woman was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct Tuesday morning after offering to perform a same sex marriage inside the probate judge's office. Anne Susan Diprizio, of the 300 block of Cambridge Street, is charged with disorderly conduct, said Dave Hill, chief deputy of the Autauga County Sheriff's Office. She was being processed in the Autauga Metro Jail after her arrest and was unavailable for comment. Courthouse records show she doesn't have an attorney.

She was being held on a bond of $1,000, Hill said. Deputies were called to the probate office, which is located one block from the courthouse, about 10:30 a.m. Probate Judge Al Booth asked for assistance, Hill said. "Judge Booth said there was a lady in the office who wouldn't leave when he asked her to leave," Hill said.

Deputies asked Diprizio to leave several times, but she refused. Capt. Tom Allen told her she was either going to leave the office or be arrested, she got up from the chair she was sitting in and kneeled in the floor. Allen handcuffed her and led her across the street to the Autauga Metro Jail.

The report goes on to explain that Diprizio had offered to officiate a marriage ceremony for Courtney Cannon and Morgan Plunkett, a same-sex couple who had just received a marriage license from the Autauga County Probate Office. That office stopped performing marriage ceremonies on Friday, a decision that Probate Judge Al Booth says is "related to work flow" and not a way to avoid performing same-sex weddings.

More, after the break.

Cannon doesn't appear to be buying Booth's story, though:

"I don't even know her name, but she said she was an ordained minister and wanted to marry us," Cannon said of Diprizio. "She was standing up for our rights to get married. Judge Booth called the deputies after he told her to leave."...

"I don't think she deserves to be arrested," Cannon said. "They say they have stopped all marriages at the probate office. But I guarantee if a heterosexual couple went in there they would marry them in a heartbeat."

The couple, who've been together for three and a half years, say they plan to travel to another county to wed.

Now I'm not saying I support ministers performing marriage ceremonies in civil government offices, but imagine just for a second that this was a pastor arrested for offering to marry an opposite-sex couple instead of a same-sex couple. Can you imagine the moral outrage, the hand-wringing and garment-rending, the shrieks of "persecution," and the breathless denunciations on cable news shows and press releases that would immediately spew forth from the Religious Right? But because it's a same-sex marriage, nothing. Shows how conveniently narrow their definition of "religious freedom" is, doesn't it?

no-gays-allowed.jpgIn other Alabama marriage equality news, officials in all but 16 of the state's 67 counties have offered at least some level of resistance to the federal court order requiring them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

According to the New York Times, it's unclear how many are acting out of sheer defiance and how many are just using a false sense of confusion as an excuse to continue discriminating "weighing how to navigate a freshly jumbled legal landscape" muddied by an eleventh-hour order from Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore demanding that probate judges ignore the federal court's decision and instead enforce the state's unconstitutional marriage law.

Some counties are issuing marriage licenses but no longer allowing marriages onsite. Others have stopped issuing licenses to any couples, whether same-sex or opposite-sex, presumably to get around Judge Granade's order. Naturally, this has made for some pissed-off heteros, who are just now beginning to understand what same-sex couples go through every day.

For example, watch this interview with Karen Baber and Brian Fuller, an opposite-sex couple from Mobile who couldn't get a marriage license yesterday at their local office. Pay special attention starting at the 1:08 mark, when Fuller has something of an epiphany about the fundamental unfairness of marriage discrimination:

Other counties are accepting applications but not issuing any licenses. But in perhaps the most brazen act of defiance, officials in several counties have chosen to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples but continue issuing them to opposite-sex couples. The Birmingham News reports:

Probate judges in Bibb County, Covington County, Cleburne County and Washington County refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday, even as they issued licenses to opposite sex couples. Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams said he would not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. reporter Casey Toner asked him whether he was worried about getting sued.

"I'm not worried about following the U.S. Constitution and the Alabama Constitution," he said. "I'm standing on solid ground."

"I'm not worried about following the U.S. Constitution..." That kind of says it all, doesn't it?

Back in Mobile, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade -- who struck down Alabama's discriminatory marriage laws in the first place -- has decided to consider a request from four same-sex couples denied marriage licenses in Mobile County to specifically instruct Probate Judge Don Davis to issue them to same-sex couples... as she has already ordered. A hearing is scheduled for Thursday at 1:00 PM CST.

Fasten your seatbelts, folks -- the drama continues. Meanwhile, legal same-sex weddings are humming along in many parts of the Yellowhammer State.

UPDATE, 2/11/2015: Anne Susan Diprizio, the minister who was arrested, has been released and is speaking out. From the Montgomery Advertiser:

Diprizio walked out of the jail about 1:15 p.m. Tuesday after posting bond and walked across Fifth Street and went back inside the probate office. She came out the front door about three minutes later.

"I asked to speak with Judge Booth but he wouldn't see me," she said. "I wanted to let him know that I will be back. They charged my with disorderly conduct, which I disagree with, I was not disorderly, I was very respectful. He didn't trespass me away from the building so I will be back. I will offer to perform marriage ceremonies again."

She says she is an ordained non-denominational minister, but wouldn't comment about her religious credentials. "We're not going to try to drag it into some religious discussion, and it's not really a political discussion," she said. "As far as I'm concerned it's about love winning, and today love wins."

She says she knows returning to the probate office will likely result in her being arrested again. "I was trying to marry a nice couple and that wasn't going to happen today because Judge Booth explained that if he let one couple be married he would have to let everybody be married," Diprizio said. "So he was not going to allow us to have ceremony there and he had me arrested.

"I told him I wasn't going to leave on my own volition and I was very respectful. These are intimidation tactics and we have the federal government on our side. It's bad for Judge Booth because he is on the wrong side of history."

But my favorite part is when the reporter asked Diprizio whether she was afraid of getting arrested.

"Of course it gives me pause; I have two young children. But I'm not just fighting this fight for myself and my friends. I really would... love to represent Alabama, for the country and for the world, so that when they make fun of Alabama -- like they always do -- they can say that there was at least one person who was on the right side of the law, the federal law, which takes precedent."


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