Jun 08, 2016

A federal court rightly issued a permanent injunction that will prevent Alabama officials from enforcing the state’s ban on the marriage of same-sex couples, Americans United for Separation of Church and State says.

In an order issued today in Strawser v. Strange, U.S. District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade wrote that Alabama cannot enforce its ban on marriage equality because the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized the practice in all states.

Granade noted that this action was needed due in part to the efforts of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who, in open defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, had previously issued a decree ordering Alabama probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. As a result of this action, Moore is currently suspended from the bench pending an ethics review.

“Judge Granade’s order should serve as yet another wakeup call to any official in Alabama who would seek to block marriage equality,” Americans United Legal Director Richard B. Katskee said. “It is unfortunate that this order was even necessary, but Roy Moore and his allies don’t know when to quit.”

Wrote Granade, “It is clear that the decision by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell does not provide certainty that the alleged violations will not recur. Accordingly, the Court finds that as long as the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain on the books, there continues to be a live controversy with respect to which the Court can give meaningful relief."

Several probate judges in Alabama have closed their offices altogether to avoid issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

“Americans United stands ready to represent any couples, same-sex or opposite-sex, who cannot get a license because their probate judge’s office is closed,” Katskee said.

Strawser v. Strange is being litigated jointly by Americans United, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the Southern Poverty Law Center and Birmingham attorney Heather Fann on behalf of same-sex couples in Alabama who have married or wish to marry.