Hard was speaking on the steps of the courthouse about his late spouse, David Fancher, when one of the Christian protesters standing just a few feet away mocked his grief and disrespected him by laughing at him and interrupting him.
“You can’t have a husband,” the man said, as Hard reminisced about his legal fight to have the State of Alabama recognize their marriage, which happened in February 2015. Fancher died in an car crash a few months after they legally wed in Massachusetts in 2011.
Last week’s news conference was organized by the Human Rights Campaign to coincide with a rally just a few hundred feet away led by Alabama’s antigay — and now suspended — chief justice, Roy Moore. The zealot told his supporters his suspension for defying the Supreme Court’s 2015 marriage equality ruling was a response to his efforts to derail the “agenda of the homosexual movement.”
Hard had no agenda other than to recall the court battles he waged to be recognized as Fancher’s husband, which the protester sought to discredit. A columnist for the Birmingham News, John Archibald, witnessed the exchange, and captured perfectly the outrageousness of that unnamed Christian protester.
“How can one stand under the banner and glory of God and laugh at another man’s death?
“I don’t care what you think of gay people or gay marriage or suspended Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and his efforts to derail the “agenda of the homosexual movement.” Believe what you want.
“I care about the cruelty I saw this week, on the steps of the Alabama Supreme Court. I can’t move beyond it.”
“…people were telling their stories. Just people who live lives most Alabamians don’t understand and most gathered there did not want to hear. They were just people, asking for freedom and an equal application of the law.
“They asked to be heard, for a moment. They didn’t ask for what they got.
“They were interrupted time and again by Moore supporters, bullied and criticized and demeaned. On the steps of the highest court in Alabama.”
“As Hard described the death of his husband, a man in the crowd began to laugh. To laugh. It was a loud, genuine, taunting and cold as ice.
“‘You can’t have a husband,’ he said. And it spewed like venom.
“And I was struck. Not by his opinion, or his belief, or his audacity, but by the malice and brutality.
“How can any man, no matter his position on Roy Moore or any issue, stand before another and mock his pain?
“How can one stand under the banner of God and laugh at another man’s death?
“How — in the name of God — can one deride genuine grief?
“In the name of God.”
Read Archibald’s full column here.