MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Joe Babin and Clay Jones have their rings. After they get their marriage license in downtown Birmingham, a friend will officiate at their ceremony, which can be held outside thanks to mild southern winters.
“We knew we wanted to do it that day because it’s such a huge day for gay rights. It’s such a huge thing for Alabama to finally not be last in something that is progressive,” said Babin.
Alabama on Monday will become the 37th state where gays can legally wed unless the U.S. Supreme Court orders a last-minute stay of a federal judge’s decision overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage.
The ruling brings gay marriage to the Deep South and to a state considered one of the Bible Belt’s most socially conservative. While gay marriage is legal in much of the nation, over half of the 14 states still enforcing bans on gay marriage were located in the South, a swath of resistance stretching from roughly Texas to Kentucky.
Couples are expected to seek marriage licenses at courthouses across Alabama on Monday morning when the ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade overturning Alabama’s ban goes into effect.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has asked the U.S. Supreme Court to put aside the judge’s order since justices are expected to decide the issue of gay marriage on a nationwide basis later this year. As of Saturday, the high court had not ruled on the request.
Alabama voters in 2006 approved a constitutional ban on gay marriage by a 4-to-1 margin.
The Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions on Friday approved a resolution expressing “moral outrage, intense grief and strong disagreement over court rulings that have set our culture in a direction against the biblical definition of marriage.”
“We likewise call upon Alabama Baptists to pray for our state and nation and to stand strong in support of biblical marriage as the only form that should be legal in Alabama and throughout our nation,” Rick Lance, executive director, Alabama Baptist State Board of Missions, said in a statement Friday.
Pastor Franklin D. Raddish of South Carolina, who led a prayer vigil against same-sex marriage at the Alabama Capitol, urged southerners to use refuse to recognize the marriages that he called “from the devil’s hell,” Raddish said.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore urged probate judges to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples, saying he does not think judges are compelled to issue the licenses.