Federal judge rules Alabama marriage laws unconstitutional News
Federal judge rules Alabama marriage laws unconstitutional

[JURIST] The United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama [official website] on Friday struck down [opinion, PDF] the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act [text], ruling them unconstitutional. Applying strict scrutiny, Judge Callie V.S. Granade found the marriage laws violated the Due Process Clause and Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment [LII backgrounders] of the US Constitution. The state argued that Alabama has an interest in “protecting the ties between children and their biological parents,” but failed to prove why the marriage laws would meet that objective. Granade further stated:

If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children. Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents.

The plaintiffs in this case were a same-sex couple who were legally married in California. One of the plaintiffs sought to adopt her partner’s child under an Alabama adoption code allowing someone to adopt their spouse’s child, but the petition was denied based on the state’s marriage laws.

This ruling was issued one week after the US Supreme Court [official website] agreed to rule [JURIST report] on same-sex marriage. Pending this decision, a federal judge last week put on hold [JURIST report] a case challenging North Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban. Earlier this month a US District Court issued a preliminary order forcing Michigan to recognize [JURIST report] more than 300 same-sex marriages performed on March 22, 2014, and a separate District Court ruled [JURIST report] South Dakota’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.