Some Alabama Same-Sex Couples Denied Marriage Licenses

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February 11, 2015
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Some Alabama Same-Sex Couples Denied Marriage Licenses

Alabama became the 37th state to legalize same-sex marriages. (Tamika Moore/tmoore@al.com)

Alabama same-sex couples ask federal court to require probate judge to issue marriage licenses

Four same-sex couples in Mobile, AL asked United States District Judge Callie vs. Granade to instruct Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to issue them marriage licenses after Davis stopped issuing marriage licenses entirely rather than issue licenses to same-sex couples as Judge Granade previously ordered.

In their request to Judge Granade, the couples explained that each of them appeared at the Davis’ Mobile offices and were denied marriage licenses. The couples’ request explains that they are suffering serious harm each day that they continue to be excluded from marriage.

The Alabama couples are James Strawser and John Humphrey—who previously obtained a ruling from Judge Granade declaring that Alabama’s exclusion of same-sex couples from marriage is unconstitutional—and Meredith Miller and Anna Lisa Carmichael, Robert Povilat and Milton Persinger, and Kristy Simmons and Marshay Safford. The couples are represented by the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Birmingham attorney Heather Fann, and the ACLU of Alabama.

Said ACLU of Alabama Executive Director Susan Watson: “We have joined with the National Center for Lesbian Rights to take legal action to obtain an order that will demonstrate to the probate judges that they are required to follow the U.S. Constitution and begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”

“While many same-sex couples in Alabama were able to marry today, many others were denied that basic freedom. We are hopeful that a ruling on this motion will provide clarity regarding the obligations of probate judges across the state and correct the misunderstanding generated by Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has erroneously instructed those judges not to comply with the requirements of the federal Constitution.  We are confident that all Alabamians, regardless of where in the state they live, will soon enjoy the freedom to marry,” said NCLR Legal Director Shannon P. Minter.

On January 23 and 26, 2015, Judge Granade issued orders prohibiting Alabama from enforcing its marriage ban in two separate cases filed by Alabama couples. The court temporarily stayed its rulings until February 10. The U.S. Supreme Court declined a request by the Alabama Attorney General to further delay issuance of marriage licenses. Separately, the Supreme Court is expected to decide by June whether four other states—Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio, and Tennessee—may exclude same-sex couples from marriage.

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