Federal judge strikes down Alabama marriage protection laws; ruling stayed pending appeal
MONTGOMERY, AL, January 26, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) -- A U.S. district judge has struck down a constitutional amendment and a state law in Alabama defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman, saying they violate homosexuals’ due process and equal protection rights according to the U.S. Constitution. But the ruling has been put on hold for two weeks pending the state’s appeal to the 11th Circuit.
In a 10-page opinion issued January 23, Judge Callie Granade wrote that Alabama’s definition of marriage “injures those children of all couples who are themselves gay or lesbian, and who will grow up knowing that Alabama does not believe they are as capable of creating a family as their heterosexual friends.”
Granade’s ruling was issued in response to a lawsuit by a lesbian who wanted to legally adopt her partner’s child after they were “married” in another state. Alabama law permits spouses to adopt their partner’s children, but since the state does not recognize homosexual “marriage,” the plaintiff was prevented from doing so.
The state immediately asked for a stay of Granade’s ruling pending appeal in order to prevent the same confusion that has developed in several other states, where marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in the hours or days after similar rulings only to become invalid when a stay was granted or a ruling overturned.
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Granade granted a 14-day stay to allow the state time to appeal, but said she believes their effort would be unsuccessful since the 11th Circuit already declined to review a similar decision by a district judge in Florida.
Attorney General Luther Strange called the stay a “step in the right direction,” but said he wished Granade had put her ruling on hold pending an ultimate decision by the U.S. Supreme Court, which is expected to rule on the constitutionality of laws that ban same-sex “marriage” later this year.
“While I would have preferred a longer stay to allow the matter to be settled by the U.S. Supreme Court's anticipated ruling in June, the 14-day stay allows more time for my office to prepare our stay request to the 11th Circuit Court while also affording the public time to resolve the confusion over the impact of the recent ruling,” Strange said in a statement.
The stay expires February 9. If the 11th Circuit upholds or refuses to review Granade’s ruling by that date, Alabama will become the 37th state where marriage has been redefined to include same-sex couples.