Live Blog: The freedom to marry in Alabama!
February 09, 2015
It's going to be an exciting day for the freedom to marry in Alabama! A federal judge's stay in favor of the freedom to marry expires today, Monday, ushering in the freedom to marry state-wide in Alabama. As news comes in today from Alabama - including wedding photos, clarifying orders from the U.S. Supreme Court or federal judge Granade, etc. - Freedom to Marry and Equality Alabama will be updating this live blog, embedding tweets, reporting on the latest news and sharing photos. You should also follow along on Twitter and Instagram using the hashtag #ALMarriage! Note that all time are Central Time
- FAQ: How to Marry in Alabama
- BECOME A FAN: Equality Alabama's Facebook Page
- PROBLEMS? Marriage Hotline from Equality Alabama and the ACLU of Alabama
- SUBMIT: Your Wedding Photos and Stories
- GET MARRIED: Full list of Counties and Information
- OFFICIANTS: Find a volunteer wedding officiant in your county
- CELEBRATE: Find an event in your city for Monday evening!
5:23pm: THANK YOU - and congratulations!
Thanks for following along with the Equality Alabama and Freedom to Marry live blog today. We are thrilled that hundreds of same-sex couples across the state were able to marry or were finally respected as what they are - married. But even as we celebrate, we know that there is work to do: Winning is not won, and while we are excited for the hundreds who married today, we are going to continue working with our state and national partners to ensure resolution in favor of the freedom to marry across the state.
Be sure to "Like" Equality Alabama on Facebook for updates - and we'll keep you posted here if there's more breaking news in the courts tonight in Alabama.
5:05pm: Searcy Attorneys seek immediate in junction in Alabama
The attorneys behind the Searcy v. Strange case have filed a new legal case seeking immediate injunction relief so that they can have the freedom to marry in Alabama. The case names the Mobile County Probate Judge, as well as the Governor, Attorney General, and Chief Justice of Alabama, as defendants.
If the injunction is granted, this case could tie up many loose ends in Alabama and pave the way to the freedom to marry statewide, with probate judges required to issue licenses to same-sex couples.
3:30pm: Celebrations continue in Huntsville, AL
2:58pm: PHOTOS - The freedom to marry in Huntsville, Alabama
Today in Huntsville, Alabama, hundreds of marriage supporters came to Madison County for Wedding Week, organized by local advocates. Local photographer KatieBeth Pierson snapped more than a hundred great photos on the first day of marriages in Madison County, and she shared them with Equality Alabama and Freedom to Marry. See them all here, and don't miss KatieBeth's work.
2:45pm: Mobile, Alabama remains closed today as Federal Judge denies motion to hold probate judge in contempt
In Mobile, the probate judge has remained closed the entire day and at just before 3pm today, made it clear that he had no plans to reopen for the day.
Meanwhile, Judge Granade has denied the plaintiffs' motion to hold the Mobile County Probate Judge in contempt of the court.
1:43pm: VIDEO: First couple to marry in Montgomery
You don't want to miss this gorgeous video of the first same-sex couple to marry in Montgomery, Shanté and Tori. Check it out HERE.
1:00pm: Celebrations continue in Alabama
12:30pm: Governor Bentley says he will take no action against probate judges issuing marriage licenses
Alabama Governor Robert Bentley took a hands-off approach in his statement today concerning the freedom to marry, explaining that his office would not take action against probate judges issuing marriage licenses. The Governor did not instruct probate judges to comply with the marriage ruling taking effect, a disappointing turn. Equality Alabama and Freedom to Marry will continue working with our partners to ensure that same-sex couples can marry statewide.
11:55am: Coffee County Probate Judge begins issuing marriage licenses
Coffee County Probate Judge Steven E. Blair released a news statement today confirming that they would be issuing marriage licenses in the county. The statement reads:
While I have the greatest respect for Chief Justice Roy Moore's opinions and beliefs, the question of federal pre-emption of state law is long settled. See Gibbons v. Ogden, 22 U.S. 1 (1824). In recognition of my oath as a judge, I am sworn to follow the order of the federal courts with respect to same-sex marriages.
My personal beliefs on this issue are entirely immaterial. Further, the canons of judicial ethics preclude a public comment.
11:45am: Attorneys for Mobile Plaintiff couple file contempt motion
Equality on Trial's Scottie Thomaston reports: "The motion notes there is no “reason why the marriage license division is closed on this particular day” and there’s no indication when the office will be open."
11:05am: Alabama marriage plaintiff Paul Hard receives new death certificate of deceased husband
Paul Hard, a client of the Southern Poverty Law Center and one of the plaintiffs in one of the three marriage cases in Alabama (Hard v. Bentley), was able to receive a revised death certificate for his deceased husband, now that the state is required to respect his marriage.
"I will finally have the opportunity to correct an indignity the state inflicted on me when my husband died. I will be at the Alabama Department of Public Health to request a corrected death certificate for my late husband, David Fancher. I hope that after Monday his death certificate will no longer include the demeaning words 'NEVER MARRIED.' Instead, I hope it will show that he was, indeed, my loving husband," he said in a Southern Poverty Law Center statement last week, following the pro-marriage ruling in Searcy v. Strange.
BREAKING: It's official! Our client Paul Hard has received state recognition of his marriage to deceased husband. pic.twitter.com/9hOpYadJS0— SPLC (@splcenter) February 9, 2015
10:45am: Couples Marry in Etowah County, Roy Moore's hometown, and Madison County
10:25am: Huntsville Weddings Begin!
10:17am: Wedding Video
10:00am: Equality Alabama Calls on Governor Bentley to instruct all probate judges to follow the law
Despite clear rulings from U.S. District Court Judge Granade ordering all counties in Alabama to comply with her order, and despite the United States Supreme Court's decision today to allow that decision to take effect, some counties in Alabama continue to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Equality Alabama Board Chair Ben Cooper said today:
All Alabama families deserve the freedom to marry - regardless of where they live. We call on Governor Bentley to provide the statewide leadership necessary - the leadership that Attorney General Luther Strange has also requested - and instruct all probate judges in Alabama to comply with this order and allow the freedom to marry for all Alabama families.
Call Governor Bentley right now and urge him to lead by instructing all probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples: 334-242-7100.
9:30am: Attorney General Luther Strange issues statement, cites the "confusion" that only he is causing
This morning, Attorney General Strange issued a statement deferring any responsibility in the marriage cases where he was named as defendant to the Alabama Governor. AG Strange said:
"In the absence of a stay, there will likely be more confusion in the coming months leading up to the Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage. ... The Chief Justice has explained in a public memorandum that probate judges do not report to me. I advise probate judges to talk to their attorneys and associations about how to respond to the ruling. Furthermore, I encourage any state agencies with questions about the ruling in Searcy and Strawser to contact the Governor’s Office."
The only source of the confusion in this situation, however, is Attorney General Strange, Chief Justice Moore, and Governor Robert Bentley. In several counties across the state, same-sex couples are marrying - and no one is being hurt. It's time for all probate judges to comply with the order and issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
9:15am: Long line for marriage licenses outside of Jefferson County Courthouse
9:00am: Same-Sex Couples Hold Marriage Licenses - History is Made
8:45am: First Marriage Licenses Issued in Montgomery!
8:35am: First Marriage License Issued in Birmingham!
Cooper and Jessie Odell, who came to the probate judge's office with their son George, are finally married after 26 years together! The couple was married by a Baptist Minister.
8:23am: Same-sex couples ready for marriage in Huntsville
Eleanor, front, and Jessica were outside courthouse at 430am and will be first couple to get license today pic.twitter.com/fCSVZ2aqe1— Mark McCarter (@markmccarter) February 9, 2015
8:15am: First couples in Montgomery County filling out marriage license paperwork
First couple in Montgomery Co. Alabama to apply for same sex marriage license, filling out papers now. pic.twitter.com/OqPi1IDoqf— Melissa Johnson (@WSFA_MelissaJ) February 9, 2015
More gay couples coming into courthouse in Jeffco pic.twitter.com/qbHsJrrj61— Alan Collins (@fox6alancollins) February 9, 2015
8:11am: Officiant Offers to Marry Same-Sex Couples
For a full list of officiants, click here.
8:05am: First same-sex couple in Birmingham applies for marriage license!
8:01am: U.S. Supreme Court denies state's request to delay the freedom to marry in Alabama!
Today, the United States Supreme Court denied the state of Alabama's request to extend a stay in a federal judge's ruling in favor of the freedom to marry, meaning that same-sex couples in Alabama will not be delayed in marrying in the state today, February 9. Attorney General Strange previously asked for a stay in this case from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals. This request was also denied.
Equality Alabama Board Chairman Ben Cooper said today:
We are thrilled that the United States Supreme Court has denied the state’s request to delay marriages between same-sex couples in Alabama. Loving, committed couples in Alabama will finally see a long-awaited end to the harms and indignity of marriage discrimination. Now it’s time to break out the wedding bells and join in the happiness of the first celebrations. We look forward to today being a historic, special day in our state. Alabama is ready for the freedom to marry.
7:59am: Love is the Law in Alabama Statewide!
In many counties across Alabama, same-sex couples are ready for the freedom to marry!
Alisha Gordon and Teresa Smith have been together for 11 years. Hoping 2 tie knot today at Calhoun Co. probate office pic.twitter.com/kvk0iefUKK— Tim Lockette (@TLockette_Star) February 9, 2015
7:55am: Rep. Patricia Todd Arrives to Cheer on Couples in Birmingham
Rep. Patricia Todd, the first openly gay elected official in Alabama, is here in Birmingham to cheer on same-sex couples! Read more about Patricia Todd, who married the love of her life in September 2013, here.
State rep Patricia Todd just arrived at courthouse. pic.twitter.com/SbkqhBudeP— Clare Huddleston (@Fox6Clare) February 9, 2015
7:52am: Counties Begin Opening Doors to Process Marriage Licenses
BREAKING: doors opened and same sex couples going in Jeff co courthouse to get marriage license pic.twitter.com/xCIAGh0oeD— Clare Huddleston (@Fox6Clare) February 9, 2015
7:35am: Equality Alabama chair Ben Cooper urges couples to proceed with wedding plans
Despite reports that probate judges in several counties will not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples - including Tuscaloosa, Elmore County, Pike County, Covington County and Washington County - Equality Alabama Board Chair Ben Cooper said today on Wake Up Alabama that same-sex couples should proceed with plans to marry.
"We are looking forward to a fantastic, historic day in Alabama," he said. "We applaud probate judges in the majority of counties that will be issuing licenses."
An updated list of counties and their status today can be found here.
7:20am: Montgomery Couples in Line for Marriage Licenses
7:00am: Birmingham Couples in Line for Marriage Licenses
Across the state, same-sex couples are getting ready for the first day of the freedom to marry.
Josh and Greg have been together for 10 years - February 14, Valentine's Day, is their anniversary.
Dee and Laura Bush have been together for seven years, and they're raising two kids in Birmingham!
Cooper and Jessie Odell are raising their son George in Birmingham - the men have been together for 26 years.
Pat Halms and Curtis Stevhens met in high school and have been together for 30 years! Now, they're thrilled to finally be able to tie the knot.
6:00am: Equality Alabama encourages same-sex couples to apply for marriage licenses state-wide, urges probate judges to follow the law
Late Sunday, February 8, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Judge Roy Moore issued a last-minute "administrative order" seeking to block the freedom to marry in the state of Alabama. Read more about the order here, which echoes many of Moore's assertions from earlier this week against marriage for same-sex couples.
Equality Alabama Board Chair Ben Cooper told The New York Times following the order that Equality Alabama is continuing to encourage same-sex couples to proceed with plans to marry:
“We are continuing to move forward tomorrow. If we walk in and licenses are refused, if they do not comply with the federal order, then these probate judges could be personally liable,” said Mr. Cooper, who added that he expected legal actions to be filed against the individual probate judges if they do not issue the licenses."
The Southern Poverty Law Center added that Moore does not have the authority to urge probate judges in the state to defy a federal judge's order.
Equality Alabama is keeping track of which probate judges are issuing licenses today, and which have said they will refuse to follow the law. See that list here.
If you face any problems today while applying for a marriage license, call the Marriage Equality hotline with us and the ACLU of Alabama - - or email us at firstname.lastname@example.org. And let's not let a handful of out-of-step probate judges stand in the way of the joyous, historic celebration that today will certainly be.
5:30am: 3,500 Alabamians sign petition to Attorney General Strange asking him to drop defense of marriage ban
On Sunday, February 8, just hours before a federal judge's stay was set to expire on her court ruling in favor of the freedom to marry, Equality Alabama and Freedom to Marry gathered in Birmingham to deliver more than 3,500 petitions to Alabama Attorney General Strange. The petition asks AG Strange to stop defending AL's marriage ban and allow Alabama to at last stand on the right side of history.
"Fair-minded Alabamians know that couples who want to take that responsibility for each other should be treated with dignity and respect," Equality Alabama Board Chair Ben Cooper said. "That's why thousands of Alabamians have come together to respectfully ask Attorney General Strange to drop the state's defense of marriage discrimination."