Same-sex couples across Alabama are celebrating this evening after a federal judge effectively overturned the state’s long-standing ban on gay marriage, but the couple at the center of the case in Mobile has been legally married for six years.
Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand made headlines earlier this year when they filed suit against the state and others after Searcy’s attempts to adopt McKeand’s biological son failed in both the Mobile County Probate Court and the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals.
Today, they’re dancing in celebration with their son Khaya, with whom they will share equal legal rights if the precedents set today remain in place. The couple held a brief press conference at Lap’s Grocery and Grill tonight to celebrate and to thank a community they say has provided tremendous support.
“It’s been nine years, and we’ve been told over and over again, ‘it can’t be done here in Alabama, just wait on a federal ruling,’” Searcy said. “We knew that it was possible and that if we presented the case in a smart, educated and strategic way, there was no way they could deny us, and that’s what happened. We’re very proud of Alabama tonight.”
Christine Hernandez, who has represented the couple along with David Kennedy, said her clients’ next step is finalizing Khaya’s adoption.
“At this point, we will respond to the motion filed by (Alabama Attorney General) Luther Strange earlier today, and we’ll have to wait and see if Judge Callie S. Granade issues a stay,” Hernandez said. “Perhaps, to some degree, the 11th Circuit has already tipped its hand with ruling in Florida, but I’m sure the Attorney General will file for an emergency stay with the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.”
Hernandez said one difference between a judge’s ruling in Alabama and the recent same-sex marriage ban overturned in Florida is that Judge Granade didn’t include a mandatory time period before a stay could be issued or marriages could be performed or considered legal.
Despite the good news, both Hernandez and Kennedy said the battle is far from over, and they are ready to continue the fight. Kennedy said he viewed the situation as an issue of right or wrong that is and has always been about protecting families.
Asked about the possibility of the case moving on to the U.S. Supreme Court, Hernandez said, “I got certified to practice before the U.S. Supreme Court last December. We’re ready.”
As for Searcy and McKeand, they’re just happy their son will no longer have to deal with the “uphill battle” his parents have fought for nine years.
“Same-sex marriage gets sensationalized and I think lot of times people don’t really understand what these laws mean to our families,” McKeand said. “It’s been nine years that we’ve tried to educate people for our family’s sake and our son’s sake, so he’s not ashamed of his family and so he can learn how to talk about it. In the meantime, all this has happened.”