By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Friday, June 26, the Supreme Court of the United States in a narrow 5-4 ruling voted to strike down all bans on homosexual marriage and require all 50 states to recognize same-sex marriages from other states. Following the landmark ruling, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, sent a letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) and Attorney General Luther Strange (R) demanding that the State remove all obstacles to implementing the Supreme Court’s ruling.
HRC’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow wrote: “On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) more than 1.5 million members nationwide, I write in light of today’s Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. As you are aware, this landmark decision has invalidated your state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Under this case, Alabama is also required to recognize all marriages legally entered into in other states and jurisdictions, including those between same-sex couples. In order to be in full compliance with the law, we urge you to take immediate action to ensure that all Judges or Justices of the Peace begin issuing marriage licenses to all eligible Alabama couples immediately. We also urge you to take affirmative steps to communicate the meaning and reach of this case to all government officials tasked with performing and recognizing marriages, including those performed outside of the state of Alabama. This Supreme Court decision requires the state of Alabama to recognize out-of-State marriages for all purposes including inheritance and medical decision making.”
Director Warbelow warned, “Delaying the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is not only unlawful, but allows the discriminatory impacts of an unconstitutional law to continue. In addition to access to recognition on the state level, same-sex couples will now have access to all federal benefits and services that have been out of their reach because of these laws. Lifeline programs like Social Security and Veterans Benefits look to the state of residence to determine eligibility. Further delaying implementation of this decision arbitrarily prevents these otherwise eligible couples and spouses from accessing these critical federal benefits.”
Warbelow concluded, “We thank you for the opportunity to bring these issues to your attention. We hope that as the Governor, you will take the steps necessary to fully represent every Alabamian— including the over 100,000 who identify as LGBT. As a result of this decision there is only one way – and that is forward.”
The HRC also issued letters to the governors and attorneys general of Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas (states where marriage licenses were not previously being issued to same-sex couples statewide).
Following the ruling, Alabama Governor Robert Bentley released a statement: “I have always believed in the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. That definition has been deeply rooted in our society for thousands of years. Regardless of today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, I still believe in a one man and one woman definition of marriage. The people of Alabama also voted to define marriage as between a man and woman. I always respect the people’s vote, and I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has disregarded the choice made by the people of Alabama in its decision today.”
In response to question from reporters, Bentley did say however that he would comply with the Court’s commands, “I have to uphold not only the Constitution of Alabama, but I swore to uphold the Constitution of the United States and we will uphold the law of the United States. I will uphold the law of the nation and this is now the law.”
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said that today’s US Supreme Court ruling, “Overturned centuries of tradition and the will of the citizens of a majority of the states.” “While I do not agree with the opinion of the majority of the justices in their decision, I acknowledge that the US Supreme Court’s ruling is now the law of the land.” “Short of the passage of a Constitutional Amendment protecting marriage as between one man and one woman, the US Supreme Court has the final say.”
The Speaker of the Alabama House of Representatives, Rep. Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) said in a statement, “While I disagree with the decision made by the United States Supreme Court, the Constitution requires us to abide by this ruling.”
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) however has said in a recent interview, “Well, the final say is the United States Constitution. It is not, it is not the words of a justice and that’s constitutional law. The final say goes back to the United States Constitution and you can find nowhere in there, marriage.”
CNN asked the Chief Justice on Friday if this ruling is worse than segregation was. Chief Justice Moore said, “I believe it’s worse because it affects our entire system of morality and family values.”
Moore said. “Five judges on the Supreme Court, or justices, have presumed to find a fundamental right which has no basis in the history or logic or tradition of our country.”
(Original reporting by CNN’s Jeremy Diamond and the Anniston Star contributed to this report.)