U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade has ruled on a second case involving gay marriage — again ruling Alabama’s laws preventing and failing to recognize same-sex marriages to be unconstitutional.
Following suit, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has appealed this case as well, and has requested a two-week stay on the outcome, which Granade has allowed.Also from Mobile, James Strawser and John Humphrey sued the state last year after they were denied the right to a legal marriage uner Alabama’s Marriage Protection Act and Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, which Granade declared last week violated a constitutionally guaranteed right to marry, regardless of a person’s sexual orientation.
The facts of the case show that Humphrey and Strawser participated in a church-sanctioned marriage cermony in Alabama prior to the case, but were denied a marriage licence by the Probate Court of Mobile County.
The couple brought on their respective lawsuit after the state’s limited definition of marriage prevented Strawser from listing Humphrey as his medical power of attorney, which presented an issue due to Strawser’s worsening medical condition.
“Strawser testified that he has health issues that will require surgery that will put his life at great risk,” court filings read. “Prior to previous surgeries, Strawser had given Humphrey a medical power of attorney, but was told by the hospital where he was receiving medical treatment that they would not honor the document because Humphrey was not a family member or spouse.”
In Granade’s ruling in the Strawser case, she stated that Strange repeated the same arguments he had in Searcy v. Strange, a federal case that overruled Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages Jan. 23. Different from Searcy, the plaintiffs in this case were seeking to marry in Alabama, rather than have their marriage in another state legally recognized.
Like the Searcy ruling, Granade ruled the state has violated Humphrey and Strawser’s rights guaranteed in the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and were thus unconstitutional.
“The plaintiffs’ inability to exercise their fundamental right to marry has caused them irreparable harm which outweighs any injury to (the state),” Granade’s ruling reads. “Moreover, Strawser’s inability to have Humphrey make medical decisions for him and visit him in the hospital as a spouse presents a substantial threat of (further) irreparable injury.”
Granade went on to say, “It is always in the public interest to protect constitutional rights,” — a direct quote from a 2008 case brought on by two members of the infamously anti-gay Westboro Baptist Church of Kansas.
Once the two-week stay has passed on Feb. 9, the injunction from Granade’s ruling will bind Strange and all his “officers, agents, servants and employees and others in active concert or participation with any of them” from enforcing the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit same-sex marriage.
As stated previously, Strange has already appealed the ruling with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta, which recently ruled in favor of same-sex marriages in Florida.
Evan Wolfson, president of Freedom to Marry Organization, released the following statement on Granade’s most recent ruling.
“Today’s victory in Alabama is the latest in a number of marriage wins from a bipartisan cascade of courts across the country, including in the deep South. When the first couples marry, their neighbors across Alabama will see that families are helped and no one is hurt. As we look forward to a nationwide ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court this summer, this tremendous momentum shows that America — all of America — is truly ready for the freedom to marry.”
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