Oh, Alabama. While Roy Moore might not be in public office, it appears that doesn’t mean his anti-LGBTQ politics have left us.
Recently, the Senate of my home state voted unanimously to stop issuing state marriage licenses. This bill, now being sent to the House, is an effort to appease probate judges in the state, many of which refused to issue any marriage licenses at all following the Supreme Court’s ruling in 2015 which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
This week, Republicans effectively had a hissy fit that progress was being made in this country and picked up their toys and went home. If they can’t issue marriage licenses only to the people they want to, then they won’t offer them at all! A really adult solution, right?
At the end of the day, it’s a lot less about what this bill says or how it changes marriage law in Alabama. Both LGB and straight people will continue to get married. They will continue to be able to celebrate their love and commitment to one another with their friends and loved ones. They will still have documentation from the state and the necessary legal modifiers that come from a marriage contract. It’s the intention behind this bill that is the root of the problem. Republicans are not just simplifying the law or making things easier for people in their state. There is no greater good served here. They are simply demonstrating that they continue to oppose marriage equality. They still do not believe that gay and bisexual people deserve the same rights and privileges as straight people. They continue to believe that we are somehow less. That is the message that they are sending to the people of Alabama, to their constituents, and to the rest of the world.
I would love to get married one day (in the very far distant future). But I’m disappointed to say it probably won’t be here in this state. It probably won’t be in Alabama simply because it doesn’t yet feel welcome or accepted. One day it will be, but unfortunately that day has not come yet. While Alabama has made progress in recent years (remember we elected the first Democratic senator in 25 years!), it has been slow. For every two promising steps forward, there seems to be a disheartening step backwards. We all have to remember that progress starts with conversations. It’s not about talking at one another but talking with one another. Dad likes to say, "Dialogues not monologues." Politicians in Alabama are hell bent on holding Alabama back. But we must fight on for people and for equality. We can create a better Alabama and a better society for all. But it will take work. It takes getting people out to the ballet box. It takes canvassing and phone banks. But most importantly it takes compassion. It takes compassion for one another, and even for those with opposing viewpoints.
Ok, Alabama let’s sit down with our friends, family, and our neighbors and have the hard conversations. Let’s commit to being more inclusive and more accepting. Not because we have to, but because we want to. Because we recognize that the fabric of our country and our state is made of different people of different backgrounds and is what gives us true strength and makes this place so special. We can do better Alabama. We must do better.
CARSON JONES is an activist, zookeeper, and the son of Senator Doug Jones. Follow Carson on Instagram @thedapperzookeeper.