The 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta today denied a request from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who requested a permanent stay on the Jan. 23 ruling that effectively legalized same-sex marriage in Alabama.
The denial from the higher court was short and sweet, coming in at less than half of page.
“The motions of the Alabama Probate Judges Association and Robert J. Bentley, Governor of Alabama, (and) Attorney General Luther Strange are granted to the extent that we have accepted and considered the amicus filings in support of the motions for stay,” the Feb. 3 order reads. “The Attorney General of the State of Alabama’s motions for a stay pending appeal are denied.”
After United States Judge Ginny Granade overturned Alabama’s Marriage Protection Act and Sanctity of Marriage amendment in the landmark case Searcy v. Strange, she issued a 14-day stay on her rulings to give the 11th Circuit a chance to hear appeals from the state.
Immediately, the state filed a motion requesting the higher court to extend the stay — scheduled to end Feb. 9 — until the U.S. Supreme Court could rule on the issues later this year. As of this morning, that motion was officially denied, and if no further action is taken same-sex marriage will be able to be performed in Alabama as of next Monday.
The ruling will be applied to Searcy v. Strange and Strawser v. Strange., both of which concluded bans on same-sex marriage in Alabama were unconstitutional. The Human Rights Campaign, a gay rights advocate group, celebrated the 11th’s Circuit’s decision.
“This confirms what we already knew — that LGBT Alabamians have the constitutional right to marry regardless of who they love. The time has come for loving and committed couples from Florence and Huntsville to the Gulf Coast to be able to marry in the state they call home,” HRC Alabama State Director Ashley Jackson said in a press release.
HRC’s Legal Director, Sarah Warbelow, said Alabama has “no justifiable reason to continue enforcing discriminatory marriage bans after a clear court order striking them down.”
Attorneys, Christine Hernandez and David Kennedy, who represented Searcy and her wife Kimberly McKeand, are already in the process of filing a motion that would request Granade end the stay early in light of 11th Circuit’s recent order. According to Strange, his office has filed an appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court in hopes of extending the stay until a permanent federal ruling is reached.
Bentley issued a prepared statement Tuesday following the 11th Circuit Court’s decision to deny state’s request for an extended stay.
“I am disappointed by the 11th Circuit’s decision today. The issue of same sex marriage is a complicated one that involves all levels of government. My request to the 11th Circuit was simply to ask that the stay be held until the Supreme Court can rule once and for all this year or pending the fully briefed 11th Circuit appeal of the issue,” Bentley said. “I support the Attorney General’s decision to ask the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay of the 11th Circuit’s decision.”
Also on Tuesday, the attorneys for Searcy and McKeand issued a press release saying their clients were “ecstatic” about the Circuit Court’s ruling.
“This means we are one step closer to finally being recognized as a family,” Searcy said.
Strange has asked for a stay in the case from the United States Supreme Court until they rule on the issue this summer, but attorneys for Searcy are confident as the high court has denied similar requests for stays in multiple states like South Carolina, Alaska, Idaho and Kansas.
“This is a last desperate attempt on the part of Luther Strange to deny this family, and others like them across Alabama, the recognition and dignity they deserve,” said Attorney Christine Hernandez.
Updated at 3:11 p.m., Feb. 3, to include statements from Governor Robert Bentley, Christine Hernandez and Cari Searcy.