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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:

Hard_fancherThe SPLC filed the suit on the basis that Alabama's Marriage Protection Act and Sanctity of Marriage Amendment violate the equal protection and due process clauses of the U.S. Constitution.

"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.

Adds the SPLC:

“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."

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Comments

  1. Good luck Mr. Hard. Fight for your rights! I'm sure the courts of Alabama are conservative but the momentum of change is on your side.

    Posted by: SpaceCadet | Feb 14, 2014 9:18:14 AM


  2. I lived in Montgomery. It's full of straight divorced people hooking up for sex. Women going running in skimpy outfits and make up. Men trying their best to score.
    So much for the "sanctity of marriage in alabama."

    Posted by: woody | Feb 14, 2014 9:54:16 AM


  3. I really wish Towleroad would report whether these cases are filed in state or federal court. It's possibly the most important fact in these cases, and Towleroad regularly omits it.

    Posted by: JJ | Feb 14, 2014 11:33:45 AM


  4. JJ - I agree!

    Posted by: Mark | Feb 14, 2014 11:54:37 AM


  5. @ jj, I assumed that since the lawsuit is based on a purported violation of the US Constitution that this was filed in federal court. I'm not a legal type, but it seems that a state level judge can only rule on the constitutionality of a state constitution, and that it takes a federal judge to rule on the constitutionality of a law that purports to violate the US Constitution.

    Posted by: Howard B | Feb 14, 2014 1:04:23 PM


  6. On the other hand it is amazing to see all these anti-gay marriage laws getting attacked and watch them crumble to dust.

    Posted by: Howard B | Feb 14, 2014 1:06:33 PM


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