By Brandon Moseley
Tuesday, April 28, the United States Supreme Court heard arguments from attorneys on both sides of the gay marriage debate. At issue is whether or not it is constitutional for states, including Alabama, to issue marriage licenses only to heterosexual couples.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange announced on Facebook, “The US Supreme Court today hears arguments for and against state laws prohibiting same-sex marriage. Alabama joined in an amicus brief supporting the right of states to define marriage as between one man and one woman.”
AG Strange wrote in his filing, “An overwhelming majority of Alabama voters approved our State’s constitutional amendment declaring marriage as between one man and one woman. It is important that Alabamians’ views be represented before the Supreme Court and I filed this brief to make sure their voices are heard. This case is about more than marriage it is also about the proper role of the federal courts in scrutinizing state policy decisions. The presumption is state laws are constitutional. If the traditional definition of marriage is not a rational basis for legislative action, it is hard to imagine what is.”
AG Strange warned that, “Stripping away a state’s right to act in its own best interest would set the country on a dangerous path, potentially undermining federalism, liberty, and our Nation’s democratic processes.”
More than 30 US religious leaders, including four Catholic bishops, wrote in a joint letter, “For many people, accepting a redefinition of marriage would be to act against their conscience and to deny their religious beliefs and moral convictions. No person or community, including religious organizations and individuals of faith, should be forced to accept this redefinition.” The writers warned that redefining marriage would have “serious consequences, especially for religious freedom.” The authors wrote that marriage is “the foundation of the family where children are raised by a mother and a father together.”
The Alabama based Foundation for Moral Law also has filed an amicus brief with the United States Supreme Court in the Sixth Circuit case involving same-sex marriage. The Foundation argues that the Supreme Court should base its decision on what the Constitution actually says, not what unelected federal judges would like to read into the Constitution. The Foundation maintains that the Constitution delegates no power over marriage to the federal government, and therefore that issue is reserved to the states by the Tenth Amendment.
The Executive Director of ACLU Alabama wrote, “Alabama needs to be on the right side of history. Marriage equality is coming to all 50 states. We will not give up the fight until marriage equality exists for all.”
The Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) Vice President of Communications and Marketing Fred Sainz said in a recent statement “We are confident that the United States Supreme Court will be on the right side of history and affirm all same-sex couples have the legal right to marry.”
Earlier this year, US District Judge Callie V.S. Granade ruled in favor of a lesbian couple in Searcy v. Strange, striking down Alabama’s defense of marriage constitutional amendment that banned same-sex couples from marrying, limiting marriage to just one man and one woman. Since then, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has campaigned vocally against marriage equality and the Alabama Supreme Court has declared same-sex marriage unconstitutional. Over 500 same-sex couples reportedly were married in Alabama between the two conflicting rulings. At this point 63 counties are issuing marriage licenses to only opposite-sex couples, while Mobile, Pike, Coosa, and Dallas Counties are not issuing marriage licenses to anyone.
The deputy legal director of the Alabama based Southern Poverty Law Center, David Dinelli said, “Fair-minded people of Alabama don’t want obstruction. They want progress. Couples in all 67 counties of this State should have the freedom to marry. The United States Constitution protects all of us, including those in Alabama, no matter the opinion of the Alabama Supreme Court. Marriage equality has taken hold in Alabama. We promise you that we are not going back and we are not leaving anyone behind.”
The US Supreme Court Decision is expected in June.
Original reporting by the National Catholic Register contributed to this report.