News (USA)

Federal appeals court won’t block Alabama same-sex marriage ruling

The Elbert P. Tuttle Courthouse in Atlanta is home to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.
The Elbert P. Tuttle Courthouse in Atlanta is home to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit.

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal appeals court order has cleared the way for same-sex marriages to begin next week in Alabama, with the panel refusing to stay a decision overturning the state’s ban.

On Tuesday, the three-judge panel from the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals denied Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange’s request for the stay. The ruling, if it stands, paves the way for Alabama to become the 37th state where gays can legally wed.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade last month ruled that two Alabama laws prohibiting the recognition of same-sex marriages unconstitutional. Granade put a hold on her order until Monday to let the state appeal.

“This has been a long time coming. I think this is a great day for all of Alabama. Finally, we’ve got to the point that all Alabama citizens are going to be treated equally,” said Christine Hernandez, a lawyer for the Mobile couple that challenged the Alabama laws. Lawyers for the couple have asked a judge to allow same-sex weddings to begin as soon as this week and to recognize marriages performed elsewhere.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange said he was disappointed in the 11th Circuit’s decision. His office quickly filed a motion with the U.S. Supreme Court asking for a stay until justices take up the issue of gay marriage this term.

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“The confusion that has been created by the District Court’s ruling could linger for months until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves this issue once and for all,” Strange said.

The U.S. Supreme Court announced last month that it will take up appeals regarding whether gay couples have a fundamental right to marry and whether states can ban such unions.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley said he supported Strange’s request for a stay. “I am disappointed by the 11th Circuit’s decision today. The issue of same sex marriage is a complicated one that involves all levels of government,” Bentley said.

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