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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, March 20, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 12
Alabama drama - Federal judge won't back down, orders state judge to comply with marriage orders 100 businesses pledge no discrimination
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Alabama drama - Federal judge won't back down, orders state judge to comply with marriage orders 100 businesses pledge no discrimination

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

The federal judge who struck down Alabama's same-sex marriage ban has refused to back down in the face of a state Supreme Court decision on the subject.

In a March 16 ruling, U.S. District Judge Callie 'Ginny' Granade said her order instructing Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to issue marriage licenses to Gay and Lesbian couples remains in effect.

Meanwhile more than 100 Alabama businesses joined HRC's 'Equality Is Our Business Program,' pledging not to discriminate in hiring against LGBT applicants.

Probate Judge Davis - whose duties include issuing marriage licenses for Mobile County - asked Judge Granade to stay her original order requiring him to issue licenses to same-sex couples, after Alabama's State Supreme Court issued an order contravening the federal court.

Granade turned him down flat.

'Although the court would agree that the developments in these same-sex marriage cases has at times seemed dizzying, the court finds that Judge Davis has not shown that a stay is warranted,' she wrote in her March 16 ruling.

Davis had failed to meet two key requirements for a stay, Granade decided - that he would be irreparably harmed if same-sex marriages went forward, and that he was likely to win the case in the end.

'In the instant case, Judge Davis has not argued, much less shown that he is likely to succeed on the merits. This court has found that Alabama's marriage sanctity laws violate the Plaintiffs' [same-sex couples] rights under the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution,' Grenade wrote.

'This court's conclusion agrees with the overwhelming consensus of courts across the country that have addressed the constitutionality of similar state laws' since the U.S. Supreme Court's 2013 Windsor decision striking down DOMA.

Granade first ruled in the case on January 23, finding that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. She then stayed that ruling from taking effect until February 9 to give the state a chance to appeal. When both the Eleventh U.S. Circuit Court and the U.S. Supreme Court refused to intervene, the judge's order took effect.

Many county probate judges, including Davis, did not comply, however. Like many county probate judges, Davis simply closed his office rather than issue licenses to Gay and Lesbian applicants.

Granade then issued a specific order to Davis prohibiting him from enforcing the state's same-sex marriage ban, and he immediately re-opened the marriage license office.

Then the Alabama Supreme Court got into the act, ruling on March 3 that state law was still in force, and that probate judges should not issue same-sex marriage licenses. After that, Davis asked Granade to stay her original ruling, which would have meant accepting the state court's analysis. In her latest ruling, she refused.

Equality is Our Business
While federal and state courts wrangle over marriage, more than 100 Alabama businesses stepped up to pledge their commitment to equality.

At a March 16 press conference in Birmingham, the HRC rolled out its new Equality is Our Business Program, in which state business leaders make a visible stand for fair treatment of LGBT job applicants.

Ashley Jackson, state director of Human Rights Campaign Alabama, said the initiative, dubbed the Equality Is Our Business Program, is an important step forward for the state and its companies.

'These over 100 small businesses have joined our Equality Is Our Business Program, and are not alone,' she said. 'The Equality Is Our Business Program offers businesses the opportunity to sign a pledge, put a sticker in their windows and participate in a series of [educational courses.]'

Johnathan Austin, president of the Birmingham City Council, agreed that the initiative will be a step in the right direction for the city and state.

'We want everyone to be a part of the community. The LGBT community is just as important as any other community in this city, and we need to make that clear,' he said.

'People want to work in this state, and they shouldn't have to hide who they are when they go to work. God loves all people.'

'We've been in business for 30 years and our policy has always been non-discriminatory in our hiring. I don't think that's anything that should be outstanding,' local bakery owner Carole Griffin said at the press conference announcing the program. 'I look forward to a day when it's not something I have to stand up and make a statement about. I think it's a no-brainer.'

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