Alabama’s LGBT activists aren’t taking antigay Justice Roy Moore’s latest actions lightly, and they're being supported by the nation's toughest watchdog of extremist groups.
Protesters in the traditionally conservative southern state gathered at Hunstville’s Madison County Courthouse Wednesday after the state’s chief justice ordered that all probate judges should essentially ignore last year’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling on marriage rights for same-sex couples.
Moore’s anti–marriage equality order, issued Wednesday, reads:
“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect.”
“There’s nothing to say to it. He’s crazy,” activist Cassidy Lamb told Huntsville TV station WAFF. “This is settled. This is long settled. I’m happy to see all these people, but I did not think I’d have to be back down here yelling and shouting and waving a flag about this, not even a year since we were marrying people in that park. It’s absurd.”
“The law is the Supreme Court!” another protester, who was not identified, told the station, referring to the federal body, not the state. “They need to follow the Supreme Court’s ruling.”
The public protests aren't Moore's only concern. The Southern Poverty Law Center is also taking action against the chief justice, filing a formal ethics complaint against him to the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama urging that he be removed from his position.
“Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again demonstrating that he is unfit to hold office,” Richard Cohen, SPLC’s president, said in a statement. “Despite the fact that Alabama probate judges are under a federal court order that bars them from discriminating against same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses, Justice Moore has irresponsibly advised them to do the opposite. You would think after being removed from the bench once before that the chief justice would know better.”
As of Thursday morning, three of Alabama’s 67 counties — Madison, Lawrence, and Jackson — have heeded Moore’s order so far and stopped issuing marriage licenses, according to WAFF. It is worth noting, however, that Lawrence and Jackson counties have stopped issuing licenses to all couples, while Madison has stopped issuing licenses to same-sex couples only, even though same-sex couples there can still apply for them.
Moore's stance also drew the ire of LGBT advocacy groups Wednesday, including PFLAG. Interim executive director Elizabeth Kohm issued this statement:
“In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued its ruling on the freedom to marry. Six months later, in his State of the Judiciary report, Chief Justice Roberts stated that the courts "...should not miss the opportunity to help ensure that federal court litigation does not degenerate into wasteful clashes over matters that have little to do with achieving a just result."
“It is clear Chief Justice Moore missed both memos.”
Watch’s WAFF’s report in the video below.