Tag Archives: alabama

Alabama House Rejects Bill to Abolish Marriage Licensing

On June 4, Alabama’s House Judiciary Committee voted 8-3 against a bill, which had previously prevailed in the Alabama Senate, that would have abolished marriage licensing in the state and replaced it with a contract process. The proposal, which had been introduced by State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Range), was aimed at removing probate judges from the marriage licensing process in light of the fact that some of them had arbitrarily refused to sign off on same-sex marriages during a brief period earlier this year when the practice became legal following a January federal court ruling. Under the bill, couples looking to marry would no longer have had to ask a government official for permission.

Though an Alabama Supreme Court injunction had temporarily halted same-sex marriages in Alabama after January’s federal court ruling, Senator Albritton introduced the proposal to abandon marriage licenses in the interim in an effort to get out in front of a potential Supreme Court decision that might re-start the practice in the state. As it happens, that ruling came down on Friday, as the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 US states.

However, as The Mongtomery Advertiser points out, since Senator Albritton’s bill failed, probate judges still have the de facto authority to choose who can marry and some will likely refuse to sign off on same-sex marriages in the wake of Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

Critics of Senator Albritton’s bill called it premature, as, at the time, the Supreme Court had not yet ruled on same-sex marriage. Now that it has and Albritton’s bill has failed, couples attempting to have their same-sex marriages certified by the state may face a chaotic situation in which probate judges in various counties refuse to do so altogether.

If I’m premature, blame me for trying to do right a little early,” said Senator Albritton earlier this month, defending his then-ahead-of-the-times effort to prevent the combination of Friday’s Supreme Court ruling and probate judges’ refusals to sign off on same-sex marriages from plunging the state’s marriage licensing system into disarray.

Had Albritton’s bill passed, same-sex couples could have certified their marriage contracts with a signature by a notary public, clergy member, or attorney, rather than by seeking the approval of a probate judge who may be unwilling to certify their union.

According to The Wall Street Journal‘s law blog, ACLU of Alabama executive director Susan Watson said that four probate judges in the state are currently not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and eight others have stopped issuing marriage licenses at all in the wake of Friday’s Supreme Court decision.

Alabama Legislature Considers Bill That Would Abolish Marriage Licensing

Last Wednesday, Alabama Senate Bill 377 cleared the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Range), would eliminate a requirement that marrying couples obtain a license from a probate judge in order to marry, replacing it instead with a marriage contract that, according to Decatur Daily, would require a signature from a notary public, clergy member, or attorney. The legislation is now eligible for a full vote by the Alabama Senate.

“The sanctity of marriage cannot be sanctified by government of men. That is where we have gotten ourselves in trouble,” said Senator Albritton to AL.com. “The purpose of Senate Bill 377 is to bring order out of chaos.”

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, same-sex marriage was temporarily legalized in the state earlier this year when a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages in January. In March, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt to the issuance of same-sex marriage licences. During the time in which same-sex marriage was temporary legal, some couples obtained licenses while some probate judges indicated that they would stop issuing marriage licenses at all in response, setting up a chaotic dispute.

Senator Albritton’s bill, modeled off of similar legislation that was recently passed by Oklahoma’s House of Representatives, would take away the ability of probate judges to deny same-sex couples the ability to marry in the event that same-sex marriage becomes legal again in the future when the federal and state courts resolve their dispute. “If the law should change in another couple of months or stand, the procedure is the same,” said Albritton. “People go to get married and they can’t get a license in some cases… The courts created a problem in the system, and I’m trying to resolve it in the easiest and simplest way.”

Alabama lawmaker threatens to ‘out’ other lawmakers’ affairs

Alabama’s first openly gay lawmaker has threatened to expose the adulterous behavior of other Alabama lawmakers after some fought the state’s decision to recognize same-sex marriage.

State Rep. Patricia Todd (D) sent out a warning over Facebook telling her colleagues, “I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about ‘family values’ when they have affairs, and I know of many who are and have...I will call our elected officials who want to hide in the closet out.

The post was made in response to other lawmakers in Alabama who spoke out against a federal court’s decision to overturn Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage. Notably, House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R) called the ruling, “outrageous when a single unelected and unaccountable federal judge can overturn the will of millions of Alabamians who stand in firm support of the Sanctity of Marriage Act,” according to AL.

Hubbard also issued a statement following Todd’s Facebook post saying, “I consider Rep. Todd a friend, and we have always enjoyed a good and cordial relationship, so I am sorry that she is upset about my remarks.” The statement continued by saying Hubbard and Todd had a fundamental disagreement on the issue, but Hubbard wrote he wold not back down from his position.

During the weekend though, a request for a two-week stay on the ruling was granted by District Court Judge Callie Granade, according to the Huffington Post. This stay means any same-sex couples who wished to marry in Alabama will have to wait until at least Feb. 9. On that date, the court will have to make a decision whether to continue the stay on the ruling, or to uphold the court’s decision to legalize same-sex marriage.

Todd said according to various reports, her post was not made maliciously, but she “[does] not like hypocrites.” She has said if her colleagues want to defend the sanctity of “family values,” she expects those same colleagues to support those same values.

 

Double Standard in Alabama: Both Major Parties Miss Ballot Deadlines But Will Be on Ballot Anyway

 

The ballots of two counties in Alabama could be missing both Republican and Democrat candidates after both parties missed the deadline to certify their candidates with the probate judge.

According to WAFF, the parties had until noon last Wednesday, and now the probate judge’s office is turning to Alabama’s secretary of state as to how to proceed with this election.

The Marshall County Democratic Party handed in their list two days late, and the Republican Party turned their list on Monday.

“We still have several days before we have to start ordering ballots,” Marshall County Probate Judge Tim Mitchell said. “I think we have to have ballots in the circuit clerk’s office by September 20, I think. So we still have a few days to figure out what is supposed to happen or what’s going to happen.”

The same thing happened in Jackson County where Jackson County Probate Judge Victor Manning told WAFF that both parties in that county missed the deadline as well. There were many Republican county parties that missed the deadline and the GOP had to request emergency meetings.

Despite missing the deadline, both the Republican and Democrat Party will be on the ballot in Novemeber according to Marshall county Constitution Party’s facebook page.

“Looks like the Probate Judge will allow the major parties on the ballot for 2014, although he does mention that his decision may be overturned. Regardless, we are looking forward to a great campaign and excited about the enthusiasm for our party and it’s principles. For the record, we are very confident in our candidates this year, and would rather have a chance to run head to head, just not at the expense of the rule of law.”

 

Last year the Alabama secretary of state denied ballot access to James Hall because he lacked the required petition signatures.

“Our job is to execute the laws as they are written,” said Will Sutton, elections attorney in the office of Alabama’s secretary of state. In order for any exception to be made, he said, the laws would have to be rewritten.“The laws are statutory so any change would require action by the legislature,” Packard explained. “There’s no authority for the secretary of state to unilaterally change the signature requirement or the deadline.”

 

Apparently Alabama’s law only applies to everyone except the two major parties.

Joshua Cassity, Chairman of the Constitution Party of Alabama told BenSwann.com’s Joshua Cook that there is definitely a double standard here.

“In our opinion, we are the only qualified Party on the ballot,” said Cassity.

“The Alabama code says they didn’t meet the qualification. How is the Secretary of State of Alabama granting the probate judge the right to break the law? If the Libertarian Party or Constitution Party were late one day they would have thrown us off the ballot,” said Cassidy.

Cassidy said that because the Constitution Party’s candidates are the only legally certified candidates they they should be declared the winners.