There has been one major advantage to being out sick this week with the flu, I have been able to be glued to the television and internet news coverage of same-sex marriage coming to Alabama. A few years ago, I'd have never thought this day would come, and up until last month, I thought Alabama would be the 50th state to recognize same-sex marriage, but I am glad that I was wrong. I wasn't wrong that it would happen with Alabamian officials kicking and screaming and trying to relive the conservative, states' rights "glory days" of the 1960s.
Alabama's same-sex marriage ban began crumbling in January, when U.S. District Judge Callie Granade found it unconstitutional. At the request of the state attorney general, Granade put a two-week stay on her ruling so the state could ask the U.S. Supreme Court to intervene and delay it even longer. On Monday morning, however, the Supreme Court declined to get involved, and Alabama became the 37th state where gay marriage is legal.
Despite the ruling, dozens of probate judges around the state have refused to comply with Granade's ruling. According to the Human Rights Campaign, which advocates for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender rights, as of Thursday afternoon, only 23 of the state's 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to all couples.
Their defiance is due to instructions from Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R), who sent an order to the state's probate judges Sunday night not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He argued that they were not bound to follow the federal ruling.
To further the confusion for Alabama's probate judges, the state's Attorney General is refusing to advise county probate judges in the matter of issuing same-sex marriage licenses. AG Strange claims that it is not part of his job to advise elected officials in the state concerning the law. First of all, Strange is a dumbass like so many officials in the state and he apparently has no idea what his job description is. The Attorney General in Alabama is the chief lawyer of the state. He is called upon as the chief defender of the laws of Alabama, the lawyer for state officials and represents the state in all matters brought before a court of law or tribunal. The Attorney General also provides advisory opinions to local and state governments when questions arise about the constitutionality of proposed laws and regulations. Therefore, when Judge Grenade ordered him not to enforce Alabama's same-sex marriage bans on the grounds that they are unconstitutional, that seems pretty clear to me that she ordered him to advise county probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex and opposite-sex couples.
Furthermore, the governor is playing dumb, as he usually does and refuses to make any comment. At the same time that he wants to prevent same-sex marriage, he doesn't want to go down in history as the George Wallace of the LGBT rights movement. Governor Bentley is merely a fence sitter. He has made only one clear decision in his time as governor and that is to refuse federal aid for ObamaCare, which any healthcare worker who deals with the poor will tell you has been a major mistake, since it left many Alabamians uninsured because they couldn't pay the high cost of health coverage and they did not qualify for Alabama's income level for Medicaid. He has been wishy-washy over casinos and every other issue before the state. He's useless.
On the bright side, at least out Lt. Governor Kay "I have other people to do my thinking for me" Ivey hasn't seemed to weigh in on the topic. God only knows what stupidity that old woman's advisors would have her say. Half the time I wonder what the hell she does anyway, but then again, I have no doubt that she wonders the same thing. The other day, I was reading a blog post from Michael-in-Norfolk where he wrote "The batshitery and insanity coming out of Alabama or more particularly the Alabama Republican Party seems to be increasing hourly. As I've done before, I cannot help but wonder WTF happened to the state where I lived for four years." The only issue I have with what Michael says is that, it was just as bat shit crazy four years ago. Four years ago we elected a dermatologist as governor, a man who calls himself "Big Luther" as AG, a state treasurer named Young Boozer, a Public Service Commissioner named Twinkle, who ran on a platform to dismantle the PSC and end the last minor protections we have against public utilities, and Kay Ivey as Lt Governor, who said on her election night when asked about an important issue at the time, and I quote, "I don't know, I pay people to do my thinking for me."
They may have closed Bryce's Mental Hospital in Tuscaloosa a few years ago, but apparently the residents were all let lose to run the Alabama government and right now the loudest lunatic is a clown in black robes named Roy Moore. The voters of the state of Alabama should be absolutely ashamed of themselves. I am totally embarrassed, even though I didn't vote for a single one of these lunatics. It's sad to say that I haven't voted for a single winning candidate in a state or local election in over ten years. Yet, all that most people look at in the state of Alabama is party affiliation not the candidate. Quite honestly, who in their right mind would elect a man who shows wanton disregard for the legal system to head the Alabama Judicial System as Chief Justice. Moore has a history of defying federal decisions. In 2003, Alabama's judicial ethics panel voted to remove Moore, who was chief justice at the time, from office after he refused to follow a federal order to take down his Ten Commandments monument in the state judicial building. Moore was elected as chief justice again in 2012.
Roy Moore has stated over and over that the lowest federal court does not overrule a state's highest court; however, the 1859 Supreme Court case Ableman v. Booth clearly states that State courts cannot issue rulings on federal law that contradict the decisions of federal courts. Moore consistently makes up his own laws and opinions to suit his needs instead of following the dictates of his office. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary needs to once again remove him from office. Once removed, this time Moore could never again have the chance to be a judge in Alabama. At 68, he will turn 70 before the next election and Alabama law bars anyone over 70 years of age from being elected to the bench.
HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a statement yesterday “It is time for the judicial chaos that Chief Justice Roy Moore has caused to end. Both the law and Judge Granade’s action today are crystal clear: refusing to follow the law has consequences. All probate judges should do their duties as public servants and begin to issue licenses to committed, loving same-sex couples immediately.” Warbelow is saying exactly what AG Strange should have said on Monday when the US Supreme Court refused to extend the stay and allowed for same sex marriage to begin in Alabama.
I have been wanting to write about this last week, so if I've been a little over zealous in this post, please forgive me. The defiance of federal court rulings is something Alabama should have learned it's lesson about fifty years ago, yet elected officials still want to show their ignorance and backwards thinking. I haven't felt like putting my thought together until now, so it all came out at once. Thankfully, I am feeling better. I'll be heading back to school today. It will be a short day, so I think I can handle it. Thank you all for your well wishes. I think I'm in the clear now.