The Southern Poverty Law Center on Thursday filed a lawsuit in federal court seeking to overturn Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage and refusal to recognize same-sex marriages performed legally in other states.
In 1998, Alabama passed the Marriage Protection Act, followed by the 2005 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment to the Alabama State Constitution. The SPLC’s suit contends that those laws violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.
“Alabama has created two classes of marriages within its borders and deemed one of those classes — marriages between people of the same sex — to be inferior to the other,” David C. Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director, said in a statement. “This is unconstitutional.”
The SPLC filed the suit on behalf of Alabama resident Paul Hard, who wants to be able to receive the potential proceeds from a pending wrongful death suit related to his partner’s passing. Their union originally took place in Massachusetts, where gay marriage is legal, but they lived in Montgomery.
“The only purpose of refusing Paul the right to share in the proceeds from the wrongful death lawsuit is to punish him for having married a man, and to express moral disapproval of this choice,” Dinielli said. “These purposes are improper and unconstitutional. Alabama must treat its LGBT citizens with equal dignity and respect under the law.”
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard responded swiftly today to the SPLC’s announcement.
“This lawsuit is part of a coordinated liberal agenda that is designed to erode the conservative Alabama values that the citizens of our state hold close to their hearts,” said Hubbard. “By an overwhelming vote in favor of the Sanctity of Marriage constitutional amendment, Alabamians strongly signaled their belief that marriage in our state exists only between a man and a woman. This Republican Legislature will continue fighting against the left-wing policies that Barack Obama and his liberal allies like the SPLC attempt to force upon Alabamians in spite of their deeply-rooted conservative beliefs. As I have noted before, the SPLC is nothing more than the ACLU with a southern accent.”
The gay marriage movement has rarely ever won at the ballot box, but they have had a lot of success finding judges sympathetic to their position. A George W. Bush-appointed federal judge earlier this week struck down part of Kentucky’s ban or recognizing same-sex marriages because he said the state treated “gay and lesbian persons differently in a way that demeans them.”
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore just last week wrote a letter to the governors of all 50 states urging them to get their state legislatures to call for a Convention of the States to amend the U.S. Constitution to say that the only union recognized by the government is one between one man and one woman.
Three Alabama state senators sponsored a resolution calling for a Convention in response to Moore’s letter.
“The moral foundation of our country is under attack,” Moore said in an interview with The Associated Press. “Government has become oppressive, and judges are warping the law.”
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