Simply Put: Same-Sex Marriage in Alabama

The internet was ablaze on Monday with outcries over Beck’s Grammy win (side note: I was incredibly pleased with this win) and Kanye West’s statements on E! but in the meantime, both Alabama and the Supreme Court took major steps toward (and partly away from, in the former case) the legalization of same-sex marriage.

Last month, Callie V.S. Granade, a Federal District Court judge, ruled Alabama’s restrictions on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. The Supreme Court on Monday decided not to interfere or block Judge Granade’s ruling and allow same-sex marriages to occur in the state. And while many of the state’s largest cities’ court officials issued marriage licenses to same-sex couples, those couples were blocked in up to 77% of the state’s counties.

These refusals came after Alabama Chief Justice Roy S. Moore ordered the state’s judges to not issue marriage licenses to gay couples. Judges were given two contradicting orders by people of legal authority in their state and had trouble navigating. Many of the more liberal judges, in larger cities like Huntsville and Birmingham, have issued licenses because they believe the federal court and the Supreme Court are superior to the Alabama Supreme Court. But the majority of counties, which are more conservative, are steadfast in their belief in states’ rights, and have followed their state authority in not granting licenses. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, too, commented that he wished the Supreme Court would have stepped in and placed a hold on same-sex marriages, since it might create more confusion. Strange, however, recognized Judge Granade’s decision and followed it. Alabama Governor Robert Bentley confirmed he would not enforce the Supreme Court’s decision and would allow judges to refuse to grant licenses to gay couples.

Parallels have been drawn between this case and the forced integration of the University of Alabama, a near-conflagration so tense that President Kennedy federalized the Alabama National Guard and ordered them to force Governor Wallace to remove himself from the doorway of the University.

The Supreme Court’s refusal to issue a delay met interior dissent. Justice Thomas, joined by Justice Scalia, wrote that the Supreme Court and the federal judge had overstepped their authority by intruding on states’ rights while also failing to preserve the present that US v. Windsor, the marriage equality case a few years back, had left open. He wrote that the decision created inconsistency, since they had previously decided to put two same-sex marriage cases on hold. Justice Thomas’s dissent foreshadowed the Court’s decision in the still-yet-to-be-heard same-sex marriage case: he essentially wrote that if the Court was unafraid to not interfere in the violation of law in Alabama, it would very likely approve same-sex marriage in the upcoming case.


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