The Alabama Supreme Court has halted same-sex marriage in the state, voting by a significant majority to abide by the state’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as “between a man and a woman,” which passed with an overwhelming 81 percent of the vote in 2006. The decision comes on the heels of a ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade, which declared unconstitutional the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
In their opinion, seven of the state’s nine justices noted, “Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage,” and stated that “the United States Constitution does not require one definition or the other.” According to reports, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has been a vocal supporter of the rule of law and time-honored marriage, recused himself.
“We applaud the Alabama Supreme Court for taking the courageous step of standing up to a blatant overreach by a federal judge and instead choosing to uphold the rule of law and the state’s constitutional amendment protecting time-honored marriage,” said Tim Wildmon, President of American Family Association (www.afa.net). “For far too long, we have seen errant federal judges unilaterally take the law into their own hands and strike down duly passed marriage protection provisions. The Alabama Supreme Court has shown that it does not take kindly to one federal judge upending state law and overruling the voice of thousands of Alabama voters. We hope and pray that other courts will follow suit and uphold the law, rather than cave to orders to ignore it.”
In the wake of the federal judge’s ruling, Chief Justice Moore had written a letter Gov. Robert Bentley stating that he intends to continue to recognize the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage, urging the governor to do so as well, and noting that Judge Granade’s ruling raised serious concerns about the “propriety of federal court jurisdiction over the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”
Even though the Supreme Court has announced it will hear same-sex marriage arguments this term, the majority opinion in the 2013 Supreme Court case United States v. Windsor, which focused on the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), stated, “By history and tradition the definition and regulation of marriage has been treated as being within the authority and realm of the separate States.” The SCOTUS decision struck down DOMA based, in part, on the fact that the issue of marriage was not a federal one, but one reserved for individual states.
Eighty-one percent of Alabama voters approved the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment in 2006, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman and prohibits the state from recognizing same-sex marriages performed in other states.