Roy Moore, the Alabama chief justice who reached national prominence for fighting the removal of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, has found a new cause: gay marriage.
Mr. Moore sent letters to all 50 governors, calling on them to pressure lawmakers at the state level to amend the U.S. Constitution to reflect that lawful marriages are only those between a man and woman, The Associated Press reported. Moore wants a states-led constitutional amendment defining the institution as a union between one man and one woman.
"The moral foundation of our country is under attack," Chief Justice Roy Moore said in an interview with The Associated Press. Moore said the only way to stop judges who are finding new rights for gay unions is with a state-initiated constitutional amendment. "Government has become oppressive, and judges are warping the law," Moore said.
Mr. Moore says he’s taking the campaign to the states because the country’s moral base faces concerted attack. He also said an Article V amendment to the Constitution is the only way to turn the tide on the attack — though courts have never upheld any Article V attempt, AP said.
His campaign has already sparked fire.
One openly gay lawmaker in Alabama — who just married her longtime lesbian partner — doubted the amendment idea would take root. Rep. Patricia Todd, a Democrat, said in the AP report that the tide has turned on gay marriage and most people in the public now support it. Todd says she expects most governors to toss Moore's letter, which is basically what Alabama's own governor has done. Governor Bentley stated that while Moore has the right to voice his opinion, he believes that marriage equality is a state issue not a federal one. "I am a states' rights person. Marriage licenses are issued by the state. I do believe that most things should be left on a state level," Bentley said.
"He's fighting a losing battle, and he probably knows that," Todd said in an interview. She said the chief justice should recognize Americans' view and the courts' views about the issue and how it has changed in recent years. "Get over it, buddy," Todd said.
Michael Hansen with Equality Alabama said he doesn't see governors giving the letter much thought. "This letter won't really have any effect that ultimately it's the last gasp effort to rally his base," said Hansen, who heard about the letter Thursday morning.
"There's nothing conservative about discrimination and marriage equality actually aligns up with conservative principals and that the foundation of our nation is strengthening when we allow more people the freedom to marry and protect their families and their kids," Hansen said.
Hansen said the odds are already against Moore for such an amendment to pass.
"I don't think he has any hope. The math is not on their side with 17 states directly supporting same sex marriage and others on the cusp of doing the same," said Hansen.
Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said in response to Moore's letters:
"Chief Justice Roy Moore said that government has become oppressive and this is yet another perfect example of his contributions to the matter. His definition of marriage as one man-one woman is a religious one. We support everyone's rights to have their own religious beliefs, but he is chronically imposing his beliefs on others... Times are changing and he needs to get with it. People here think that marriage equality in Alabama will never happen. But I think it will."
A lawyer with the American Civil Liberties Union said the 17 states that allow gay marriage aren't likely to reverse their positions and call for a constitutional amendment. "I think the chief justice has a math problem ahead of him," said James Esseks, director of the ACLU's Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Project.
Others say attitudes have changed in Alabama since the law's enactment. Last year, the leader of the College Republican Federation of Alabama supported the U.S. Supreme Court's decision overturning the Defense of Marriage Act. That upset the state Republican Party chairman, who proposed a rule change aimed at keeping party leaders from taking public positions contrary to party policy. The state GOP executive committee wouldn't approve it.
"That is a great example of where the country is moving," Esseks said.
Moore is no stranger to controversy. In 2003, he was kicked out of office for disobeying a federal court order calling for him to take down a monument of the Ten Commandments he had installed at the state judicial building. Moore was re-elected in 2012. One of the greatest political blunders of the Alabama voting public was to elect Roy Moore to a second term after he had been kicked out of office one time already. And even if his blatant disregard for the law was not enough, Moore has done more harm to the Alabama Judicial System then any Chief Justice in history.
The Chief Justice of the Court serves as the administrative head of the Alabama Judicial System. The court makes all rules governing administration, practice, and procedure for all Alabama courts. The exercise of this authority eliminates technicalities which usually cause delays in trial courts and reversals in appellate courts. Moore, through massive mismanagement of the Alabama Judicial System, has caused the greatest backlog of cases because of massive lay-offs he created with court clerks and administrative staff. Judges are forced to share court clerks with other judges and often are forced to conduct court without a clerk in the courtroom. Moore was a disaster as the administrator of the Alabama court system, the most important job of the Chief Justice. In the midst of yet another fight over the adequacy of court funding in August of 2001, Moore unilaterally filed suit in Montgomery Circuit Court against the Governor, State Comptroller, and State Finance Director accusing them of violating Alabama law and the Alabama constitution by not adequately funding the state courts in that year’s budget. In addition, Moore’s lawsuit claimed that the courts should be permitted to operate independently of legislative or executive budgeting and oversight.
Moore has routinely taken extreme positions that are outside of mainstream Alabamians. For example, Moore publicly supported an Army doctor (Lt. Col. Terrence Lakin) who was court-martialed for refusing to return to Afghanistan to care for our troops because he did not believe that President Obama was born in the United States. In 2002, Moore authored an opinion in a child custody case in which he stated that the mother’s sexual preference automatically disqualified her as a parent, even though the father had a history of physical abuse. Moore wrote that the state should use “the power of the sword” to punish gays and lesbians. Moore has also opposed amending Alabama’s constitution to remove segregationist language. Finally, in a column dated December 13, 2006, Moore argued that Keith Ellison of Minnesota, the first Muslim to have been elected to the United States House of Representatives, should be barred from sitting in Congress because in his view, a Muslim could not honestly take the oath of office.
The greatest problem with Roy Moore is that he is not only the Chief Justice, but also the Chief Bigot, the Chief Idiot, the Chief Clown, etc. I could continue with other adjectives to describe him, but they are all basically the same. The head of the Alabama Judicial System should have to follow the law in his rulings, but over and over again, he has made rulings with a total disregard for the law. The American political establishment (just like the political establishments in every country in the world) has imbeciles who should learn to keep their mouth shuts and should have never been allowed in a position of power in the first place. As much as I dislike most politicians, Roy Moore ranks as one of those I dislike the most. He is a duplicitous egomaniac and will do and say anything to get in the news and try to get more votes. Alabama has always had some crooked public figures, but Roy Moore takes the prize as the worst in my book.