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. Judge Granade stayed the ruling pending the decision from the United States Supreme Court later this summer, meaning the ruling will not take effect until the ruling comes down.

Judge Granade explained that her ruling in this case followed her ruling earlier this year in Searcy v. Strange:

This Court determined, in another case, Searcy v. Strange..., that Alabama’s marriage laws prohibiting and refusing to recognize same-sex marriage violate the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution. In Searcy, this Court found that those laws restrict the Plaintiffs’ fundamental marriage right and do not serve a compelling state interest. Although the Plaintiffs in this case seek to marry in Alabama, rather than have their marriage in another state recognized in Alabama, the Court, as it previously did in issuing the preliminary injunctions against Attorney General Strange and Judge Don Davis...finds that Alabama’s laws violate the Plaintiffs’ rights for the same reasons. Alabama’s marriage sanctity laws violate Plaintiffs’ rights under the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution by prohibiting same-sex marriage. Because this Court has continued to find that said laws are unconstitutional, the Court also finds that the new named Plaintiffs and the Plaintiff Class are likely to succeed on the merits of their claims.

The injunction was in the case Strawser v. Strange, filed in September of 2014 by James Strawser and John Humphrey, seeking the freedom to marry in Alabama. The couple is unmarried and wishes to get married in the state.

On January 23, 2015, U.S. Judge Callie V. Granade ruled in favor of the freedom to marry in the case Searcy v. Strange, striking down Alabama's ban on same-sex couples from marrying. The judge ruled similarly in the Strawser case on January 27. The judge did not issue a stay in her ruling.

Shortly after the ruling, the Alabama Attorney General requested an emergency request for a stay. Judge Granade granted the request and stayed the ruling for 14 days. Attorney General Strange requested for a further stay pending appeal, which was denied by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court. But on March 3, the ruling was put on hold by the Alabama Supreme Court. 

On March 6, 2015, following a stunningly out-of-step ruling from the Alabama Supreme Court ordering probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the National Center for Lesbian Rights, the ACLU of Alabama, and the Southern Poverty Law Center filed a motion to amend the initial complaint, seeking class-action status to bring the freedom to marry statewide in Alabama.

Freedom to Marry applauds Judge Granade in making this ruling, ending the confusion and further denial of the rights and responsibilities of marriage for loving, committed couples in Alabama.

Read the full ruling here.