As the battle over marriage equality continues in Alabama, the state has submitted a friend of the court brief in the upcoming U.S. Supreme Court case making the tired and unfounded argument that same-sex marriage harms children.
The brief, submitted Tuesday by lawyers for Gov. Robert Bentley, "said marriage is a natural reality and that same-sex marriage destroys the 'rights of children to be connected to their biological parents,'" the Associated Press reports.
This echoes the arguments the state made in defending its ban on same-sex marriage in federal court, where U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade was unconvinced and struck down the ban in two January rulings.
Granade's rulings allowed same-sex couples to begin marrying in Alabama in February, but the state Supreme Court halted those marriages early in March. The state's high court contends that federal courts have no say over Alabama's marriage laws and issued an order March 3 that county probate judges, who handle marriage licenses in Alabama, cease granting them to same-sex couples.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a staunch opponent of marriage equality, recused himself from that order, but he's still embroiled in the fight. In February, as Granade's rulings were about to go into effect, he advised probate judges not to comply, and he's been sued over that by couples who were denied marriage licenses in Mobile County.
On Tuesday, Moore asked Granade to dismiss the suit, which accuses him of violating her order overturning the ban, as the couples were eventually able to get their licenses, reports AL.com, a website for several Alabama newspapers. The plaintiffs' attorney, David Kennedy, agreed that the question is now moot.
Also this week, there have been legal developments regarding Don Davis, the Mobile County probate judge who resisted issuing the licenses. Granade February 12 specifically ordered him to grant licenses to same-sex couples, then clarified that it applied to probate judges in all counties in the state. But with the state Supreme Court's March 3 order, Davis ceased granting any marriage licenses, to same-sex or opposite-sex couples, March 4, saying he is caught between conflicting orders.
Granade ruled Monday that her order is still in effect, AL.com reports. The Human Rights Campaign's Alabama state director, R. Ashley Jackson, Tuesday accused Davis of disobeying a federal court order. Heather Fann, an attorney representing same-sex couples, had a different perspective, telling AL.com that she believes Davis is not in violation of Granade's order as long as he does not issue any marriage licenses, but doing that indefinitely is not a practical option.
The couples who were initially denied marriage licenses by Davis have been joined by others in a suit that civil rights groups are trying to have certified as a class action, which could lead to a definitive ruling that all counties in the state have to grant licenses to same-sex couples. Davis's attorneys filed court papers Tuesday opposing the class action certification, while attorneys for the state have until next Monday to respond.
The U.S. Supreme Court case, involving marriage bans from Michigan, Ohio, Kentucky, and Tennessee, will likely decide the marriage equality question nationwide. It will hear arguments April 28, with a decision expected in June.