Hight Court: Marriage Equality Prevails in AL, Weddings Start

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Featured Photo on main site: Today, Tori Sisson and her partner Shanté Wolfe became the first same-sex couple to marry in Montgomery  Photo: HRC

Featured Photo on main site: Today, Tori Sisson and her partner Shanté Wolfe became the first same-sex couple to marry in Montgomery, AL. 
Photo: HRC

Today, Alabama becomes the nation’s 38th state to honor the freedom to marry after a federal district court struck down the state’s marriage equality ban and ordered marriage equality to begin this morning.

Judge Granade of the U.S. District Court of the Southern District of Alabama issued orders on January 23 and 26 prohibiting Alabama from enforcing its marriage ban in two separate cases. The court temporarily stayed its orders until today.

The Alabama couples filed the legal challenges are Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand and James Strawser and John Humphrey, all of Mobile. Mobile attorneys Christine Hernandez and David Kennedy represent Searcy and McKeand. The National Center for Lesbian Rights and Birmingham attorney Heather Fann represent Strawser and Humphrey.

This may seem like a simple, procedural move—one the Supreme Court has made in the past in cases ranging from Alaska to Florida. But, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) notes, all those denials took place before the Court had agreed to take a marriage case. The decision to allow marriages to begin in Alabama means something dramatically different now that the Supreme Court oral arguments in a marriage case are just weeks away. [pullquote]“The only thing we have wanted from the beginning is to see a day when same-sex couples across Alabama no longer live in fear of the harms caused by the lack of equally protections. We are honored to be part of this historic moment. …”—Cari Searcy [/pullquote]

“We are thrilled that same-sex couples are now legally treated as equal citizens of this state,” said Searcy. “The only thing we have wanted from the beginning is to see a day when same-sex couples across Alabama no longer live in fear of the harms caused by the lack of equally protections. We are honored to be part of this historic moment. This is a great day, and we are grateful to everyone who worked so hard to make it possible.”

“By refusing to halt marriage licenses in Alabama, the Supreme Court has telegraphed that there is virtually zero risk that they will issue an anti-equality ruling this summer,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Instead, the odds of a ruling bringing marriage equality to all 50 states have increased significantly.

In light of the Supreme Court’s action today, marriage equality will be the law of the land in Alabama beginning on February 9th, 2015. On January 28th, the Alabama Probate Judges Association issued guidance to all parties that, “on the occasion that the stay is lifted, same sex couples may apply for marriage licenses.”

“We got involved in this case because John was not allowed to be involved with my medical care when I was in the hospital. Being able to get married will give us so much peace of mind. It means that we don’t have to rely on legal documents that may or may not be honored. All we want is to be treated like any other married couple, and we are so happy that is going to be possible today,” said Strawser.

HRC congratulates the countless committed and loving couples in Alabama that will soon be able to marry.

Learn about the Searcy v. Strange case.

Learn about the Strawser v. Strange case.

And to the couples in Texas, Louisiana, Mississippi, Georgia, Arkansas, Missouri, Nebraska, South Dakota, North Dakota, Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, and Michigan:

Start your wedding plans now. HRC reported that HRC Alabama Field Organizer Tori Sisson and her partner Shanté Wolfe were the first couple to tie the knot in Montgomery, Alabama this morning.

Reactions from Social Media:

[From various News Releases]

The National Center for Lesbian Rights is a national legal organization committed to advancing the human and civil rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender community through litigation, public policy advocacy, and public education. 

The Human Right Campaign envisions a world where lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.

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