Alabama has become the latest state to see its ban on gay marriage fall to a federal court ruling, as the issue of same-sex marriage heads to the U.S. Supreme Court.
U.S. District Callie V.S. Granade ruled Friday in favor of two Mobile women who sued to challenge Alabama’s refusal to recognize their marriage performed in California.
Alabama’s Attorney General’s Office has asked the judge to put a stay on the ruling, citing the Supreme Court’s announcement that they’ll hear arguments on same-sex marriage cases in April. A ruling is expected in June.
The case involved Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand of Moblie, who were legally married in 2008. When Searcy tried to adopt McKeand’s biological son, their petition was denied because of a because of “The Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment” and “The Alabama Marriage Protection Act.”
The state law and constitutional amendment that say marriage is only between a man and a woman, and that Alabama doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The couple sued, saying Alabama violated their 14th Amendment rights of due process and equal protection.
In her ruling, U.S. District Judge Granade agreed, stating “There is no law prohibiting infertile couples, elderly couples, or couples who do not wish to procreate from marrying. Nor does the state prohibit recognition of marriages between such couples from other states.”
Judge Granada went on to say the same-sex marriage prohibition hurts children of same-sex couples.
“Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents,” said Granade.
Read U.S. District Judge Granade’s complete decision here.
The ruling is the latest in a string of wins for advocates of marriage rights. Judges have also struck down bans in several other Southern states, including the Carolinas, Florida, Mississippi and Virginia. The U.S. Supreme Court announced this month that it will take up the issue of whether gay couples have a fundamental right to marry and if states can ban such unions.
Alabama’s leadership has expressed disappointment about the ruling. Governor Robert Bentley tweeted Friday “The people of AL voted in a constitutional amendment to define marriage between man & woman. I’m disappointed by the ruling & will review it.”
Mike Hubbard, Alabama Speaker of the House of Representatives, had stronger words.
In a series of tweets, Hubbard said “It’s outrageous when a single unelected and unaccountable federal judge can overturn the will of millions of Alabamians. Millions of Alabamians stand firm in support of the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”
Hubbard added that “The Alabama Legislature will encourage a vigorous appeals process. We will continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live.”