Last Friday night, as many of us were just getting home from work, news broke that U.S. District Court Judge Ginny Granade with the stroke of her pen essentially made same sex marriage in the state of Alabama legal. Stunned, equal rights supporters looked out their windows to confirm porcine were not flying in the skies from Muscle Shoals to Mobile, as Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange almost immediately filed for a stay.
Judge Granade granted one for 14 days, but if no action is taken by the Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to extend or lift the stay within that time period, it will be lifted on Feb. 9, and same sex couples can begin planning their Alabama weddings.
This case began when local couple Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand both sought to have equal rights to the child they had raised together, who was biologically McKeand’s but had been planned together and achieved using a sperm donor. The couple had legally married in California and Searcy sought to adopt their son under a provision in Alabama’s adoption code that allows a person to adopt their spouse’s child. But their petition was denied under the “Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment” and “Alabama Marriage Protection Act,” both of which define marriage as one between a man and woman.
The couple challenged this as a violation of their constitutional rights, and Judge Granade ultimately agreed. Citing other recent “doctrinal developments,” she said the courts have found the definition of marriage could not be limited to just those between a man or woman. And she went on to say denying same sex couples the same parental rights as heterosexual couples is not only demeaning, but harmful to the children of those same sex couples.
“If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children. Those children currently being raised by same sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the state as are the children being raised by opposite sex parents,” Granade wrote.
This is just one of the many cases across the country working its way through the courts.
And probably one of the many reasons why just a couple of weeks ago, the U. S. Supreme Court said it would take up this issue in April, possibly deciding by June once and for all if same sex couples have the constitutional right to marry or if states have the right to ban them.
Judging by many of the courts’ most recent rulings, many legal scholars speculate the Supreme Court will recognize this constitutional right to same sex couples across the country.
After last week’s ruling, many took to social media and local media sites to comment. The rhetoric was heated on both sides. While no one is certain just yet how this will ultimately turn out, it is obvious it will be a divisive issue in the state for some time, no matter if it is decided on Feb. 9, in early summer or beyond.
I applaud Judge Granade’s decision and was deeply saddened by some of the aforementioned rhetoric.
A little over 12 years ago, I met one of my best friends. We hit it off almost immediately and did all the things friends do together, especially when you are in your 20s. We went out to clubs and would call each other the next morning to “rehash,” watched “Idol” together and binged on TV shows like “24,” brunched and vacationed together, talked about guys we liked or who had hurt us, even weathered a hurricane or two together. We bitch about work and gossiped about friends.
When my mom died, he sat right by my side at her funeral. When I got married, he was one of only three friends I had with me at my small courthouse wedding. He helped host a wedding and baby shower for us. He came to the hospital after both my children were born. He buys them the best and most thoughtful gifts at Christmas and on their birthdays. He is their uncle, as far as they are concerned. He is my family. And he just happens to also be gay.
And I absolutely believe to the core of my being he should be afforded the exact same rights I have been. I would love to be able to host a wedding and/or baby shower for him one day. And see him be able to experience the same happiness my husband and I have. Why wouldn’t I? I have the same hope for all of my friends and family, no matter who they love.
I believe more and more people are starting to see this in the same way. And these people are from all walks of life, races, denominations, political backgrounds and socioeconomic classes, which is why this issue is going through the courts at lightning speed, (as far as court speed is concerned anyway).
Unless you only travel in the most highly insulated and uber-evangelical circles — which many do in this state — everyone has a friend, co-worker, neighbor, sibling, cousin, aunt, uncle or even parent, who just happens to be gay. And if you do, you know they go through the same struggles we all do and are no different than any of us. Being gay, just like being straight, is only a very small portion of their identity.
All it takes is just one relationship like this for you to be beyond certain Judge Granade and the rest of these courts are moving in the right direction. Once you do, there is no way you would ever want your friend to have to live under a different set of rules or be treated inferiorly for one more second, much less for two more weeks.