Lawsuit Filed Challenging Alabama's Ban on Gay Marriage
The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a suit on Thursday which seeks to overturn Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage and seeks recognition of same-sex marriages from other states, WSFA reports:
"Alabama has created two classes of marriages within its borders and deemed one of those classes – marriages between people of the same sex – to be inferior to the other," said David C. Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. "This is unconstitutional."
The SPLC filed the suit on behalf of Paul Hard, who was legally married to David Fancher in Massachusetts. Fancher was later killed in a car wreck in Montgomery.
The SPLC says Hard is demanding his rightful share from the proceeds of a pending wrongful death suit and wants the State of Alabama to correct a death certificate for his late husband naming him as the surviving spouse.
“Alabama has created two classes of marriages within its borders and deemed one of those classes – marriages between people of the same sex – to be inferior to the other,” said David C. Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. “This is unconstitutional."
“The only purpose of refusing Paul the right to share in the proceeds from the wrongful death lawsuit is to punish him for having married a man, and to express moral disapproval of this choice. These purposes are improper and unconstitutional. Alabama must treat its LGBT citizens with equal dignity and respect under the law.”
Hard and Fancher were married in Massachusetts in May 2011, and Fancher died in a Prattville, Ala., hospital the following August while the two were living in Montgomery. Hard is now suing the trucking companies involved in the wreck. Fancher had collided in the dark with a large truck strewn across the northbound lanes of Interstate 65 north of Montgomery.
In Alabama, however, proceeds from a wrongful death case must be distributed pursuant to the laws of intestate succession (even though Fancher died with a will and Hard was the sole beneficiary). And because Alabama refuses to recognize lawful same-sex marriages entered out of state, current state law means that Hard cannot be deemed the surviving spouse and cannot share in the proceeds of the lawsuit.
Said Governor Robert Bentley in a statement yesterday:
"Governor Bentley will fight the merits of this lawsuit. Like most Alabamians, the Governor strongly believes in the traditional definition of marriage, as being between a man and woman. He will work every day to continue to protect the sanctity of marriage in Alabama."