Good news, gay and lesbian couples. Gay marriage is now legal in the state of Alabama!
Well, sort of.
Last Monday, the United States Supreme Court voted 7-2 to deny a delay on a lower court's decision to strike down Alabama's gay marriage ban. In doing so, the Supreme Court effectively made Alabama the 37th state in the nation where gay marriage is now legal.
But Alabama is Alabama -- a state with a long, proud and shameful record of defying federal court orders and ignoring Constitutional law. And in typical Alabama fashion, Alabama has decided once again, as it did in the 1960s with African-Americans, that it will not go gently into that good night!
Before the Supreme Court even announced its decision, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore -- the same Roy Moore who was removed from office in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove the Ten Commandments from the state Supreme Court building -- issued an order of his own, instructing all probate judges and state employees to ignore the SCOTUS ruling, adhere to state law and deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
As a result, we have a conundrum in Alabama. The Supreme Court says it cannot refuse marriage licenses to gay couples, but its own Chief Justice says it can. And as a result of that, many counties in Alabama don't know what to do.
Forget about the fact that the Supreme Court has spoken. Chief Justice Roy Moore made it clear before the court spoke that he had no intention of following its orders. Also, forget about the fact that under the Constitution of the United States, no state -- much less Alabama -- has a legal right to deny its citizens the equal protection of the law. Remember, this is Alabama. What didn't work in the '60s on African-Americans may work today on gays and lesbians! Right?
Moore's statements on the issue have been confusing at best. He told CNN's Chris Cuomo that his decision is based on the law, not his own personal beliefs. "I've never said it was about my faith and religion," he told Cuomo. "It's about the organic law of the country."
But in that same interview, he also told Cuomo "It's about sexual preference overcoming an institution which has existed in our state for centuries, and I think it's wrong."
You think it's wrong, Mr. Moore, or you know it's wrong under state and federal law? These are two different statements. And it's not clear from your statements where you stand on gay marriage.
Of course, this is the same Roy Moore who has let his personal beliefs get in the way of his job before. That's why he was relieved of his duties in 2003. But remember, this is Alabama! What didn't work for Roy Moore in 2003 may work for Roy Moore today. Right?
At the end of the day, Roy Moore's personal beliefs don't matter, and neither do the personal beliefs of anybody else in the United States. All that matters is the Constitution, which is very clear on the legal process regarding gay marriage. The 5th Amendment states, "No person shall... be deprived of life, liberty or property, without due process of law." A popular vote -- like the one that banned gay marriage in Alabama in 2006 -- is not due process of law.
The 14th Amendment states this: "No state shall... deny to any person within its jurisdiction the equal protection of the laws." That means no state can issue an order or statute that denies equal protection to all its citizens. The executive order issued by Governor Fob James that banned gay marriage in Alabama in 1996? It's illegal and unconstitutional. So are the statutes passed by the Alabama House and Senate that same year -- both are unconstitutional and illegal. This is Constitutional reality, folks. It's not up for debate, and it doesn't matter what your personal beliefs are.
But again, this is the same Alabama that defied federal court orders on segregation in the 1960s. Everything, it seems, is up for debate in Alabama! Its own governor, George Wallace, once famously stated "Segregation now, segregation tomorrow, and segregation forever!" That didn't work out too well for Wallace, but remember, this is Alabama! What didn't work for George Wallace in the '60s may work today. Right?
Enough with the gay marriage hysteria, America. If you disapprove of gay marriage for personal and religious reasons, that's fine. I support your Constitutional right to do so. If Phil Robertson from "Duck Dynasty" speaks out against gay marriage, I support his Constitutional right to do so, too, even if I disagree with his words. But, I do not support anything that goes against the Constitution. For the state of Alabama, or any other state, to deny gay couples the equal protection of its laws simply because they're gay is not only wrong and immoral, it's arbitrary, illegal and unconstitutional. It's as simple as that.
And remember this, Alabama: The ten states with the lowest divorce rates in America are Connecticut, Iowa, Illinois, Massachusetts, Maryland, New York, New Jersey, North Dakota, Pennsylvania and Wisconsin. Gay marriage is legal in nine of those states. If your ultimate goal is to defend the sanctity of marriage in your state, well, that's great! What's working in those states may work in Alabama.