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Alabama

STATUS:

Marriage

WHAT'S HAPPENING:

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in the case Obergefell v. Hodges, ending marriage discrimination throughout the nation. This decision was quickly implemented by states across the country, including in Alabama. Read more about the ruling here.

HISTORY:

 In 2005, the Alabama state legislature passed a bill that allowed the state's residents to vote on a constitutional amendment to ban all forms of family status for same-sex couples. The amendment passed, cementing clearly discriminatory language into official state policy.

In June 2006 anti-gay forces in Alabama pushed through an anti-marriage constitutional amendment, the so-called Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, which excludes same-sex couples from marriage and bars them from attaining any other form of family status.

In February 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a federal lawsuit, seeking respect for a widow's marriage to his husband. In the same year, two other same-sex couples filed separate lawsuits, including Searcy v. Strange, which received a ruling in favor of the freedom to marry in Alabama in January 2015. Read more about marriage litigation in Alabama.

On March 3, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling in an "emergency petition for writ of mandamus," brought by two private groups who oppose the freedom to marry in Alabama. In the ruling, the Court ordered a temporary halt to probate judges in Alabama from issuing marriage licenses, aside from probate judge Davis in Mobile, who was specifically ordered to stop enforcing Alabama's harmful ban on marriage between same-sex couples.

The injunction stemmed from a January 23 decision from U.S. District Court Judge Callie V. Granade, who ruled in favor of the freedom to marry, striking down Alabama's ban on same-sex couples from marrying. The judge issued a 14-day stay in her ruling, then ruled again in a separate marriage case on January 27. The freedom to marry took effect statewide on February 9.

Legal groups are hard at work on ensuring that the federal order is applied across Alabama so that same-sex couples once and for all can marry in the state, without question. 

GROUPS ACTIVELY WORKING ON MARRIAGE:

  • Equality Alabama is working to advance full equality and civil rights for all the people of Alabama through education and action.
  • The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization working on a variety of LGBT issues. NCLR is counsel in the Strawser v. Strange case.
  • The Southern Poverty Law Center is a national legal organization committed to civil rights for all Americans. 
  • The ACLU of Alabama works on a variety of civil rights issues in Alabama, including the freedom to marry. 
  • Freedom to Marry is the campaign to win marriage for same-sex couples nationwide. 

POLLING DATA: 

 Support for the freedom to marry has doubled in Alabama in the past 8 years, with 32% of the population now supporting marriage. In 2004, just 16% were supportive. (Williams Institute, 2012) 

NUMBER OF SAME-SEX COUPLES:

According to The Williams Institute's analysis of the 2010 U.S. Census, 6,582 same-sex couples are living in Alabama, representing 3.5 same-sex couples per 1,000 households. 

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A decision from the United States Supreme Court on the question of the freedom to marry could come down as early as this week.

Victory: Judge confirms the freedom to marry in Alabama

Today, May 21, Judge Callie V. Granade ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in Alabama, issuing an injunction that would require all state clerks to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who want to get married, reaffirming a previous ruling in the state.

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This evening, March 3, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a ruling in an "emergency petition for writ of mandamus," brought by two private groups who oppose the freedom to marry in Alabama.

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