Alabama's Chief Justice Declares Homosexuality 'a Sin,' Bases Custody Ruling Partly On Bible

Americans United Says Moore's Church-State Views Echo Dark Ages

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's reliance on religious rhetoric to decide a case pending before him has sparked sharp criticism from Americans United for Separation of Church and State.

Moore recently issued an opinion in a child-custody case calling homosexuality "a sin" that "violates both natural and revealed law." A portion of the ruling cites the biblical books of Genesis and Leviticus.

"It appears that Justice Moore is once again making his decisions on the basis of his personal religious beliefs, not the commands of the law," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State. "Justice Moore would make a great official of the Inquisition, but he doesn't belong on a state supreme court.

"I don't know what to expect next from Moore," continued Lynn. "Perhaps a witch burning?"

The decision in In Re: D.H. v. H.H. concerns a lesbian living in California who sued her ex-husband in Alabama to obtain custody of the couple's three minor children. The Alabama Supreme Court unanimously rejected the mother's case, and Moore wrote a separate concurring opinion blasting homosexuality on religious as well as legal grounds.

Among other things, Moore called homosexuality "an evil disfavored under the law," "an inherent evil," a "detestable and an abominable sin," and "an act so heinous that it defies one's ability to describe it."

Moore even suggested that execution is an appropriate penalty for gay people.

"The State," observed Moore, "carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle."

Tracing the history of laws banning homosexuality, Moore, in his Feb. 15 ruling, cites passages from the books of Genesis and Leviticus and favorably cites anti-sodomy laws in legal codes stretching back to the sixth century.

Moore writes, "No matter how much society appears to change, the law on this subject has remained steadfast from the earliest history of the law, and that law is and must be our law today. The common law designates homosexuality as an inherent evil, and if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent."

Lynn criticized Moore for using his office to promote a fundamentalist Christian agenda. He noted that Americans United is currently suing Moore in federal court, challenging his display of a two-ton Ten Commandments monument at the Supreme Court building in Montgomery.

"Moore apparently thinks we live in a theocracy, not a democracy," Lynn said. "This opinion is remarkably ignorant. It sounds like it was written in the Dark Ages, not the beginning of the 21st century."

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.

Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington, D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.