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WATCH LIVE: President Obama Marks 50th Anniversary of Selma-Montgomery March With Call to Action


President Obama is in Selma, Alabama today to mark the 50th Anniversary of the landmark civil rights march from Selma to Montgomery. He is expected to lead the tribute at the Edmund Pettus Bridge (the site of the "Bloody Sunday" violence in 1965) with a speech at 12:15pm ET.

The AP reports:

Dozens of charter buses and thousands of people had already poured into the west Alabama town hours before Obama's speech.

The congressional delegation will include U.S. Rep. John Lewis of Georgia, an Alabama native who was among the marchers seriously injured in the violence 50 years ago. Congressional Republican leaders were to be absent from the event, but House Speaker John Boehner of Ohio released a statement.

"Today, 50 years after the Selma to Montgomery marches began, the House honors the brave foot soldiers who risked their lives to secure the blessings of liberty for all Americans," he said.

Watch the live feed, AFTER THE JUMP...

The Wall Street Journal is also marking the occasion with a look back on photographer Dan Budnik's startling images of Selma and other events documented at the time.

Continue reading "WATCH LIVE: President Obama Marks 50th Anniversary of Selma-Montgomery March With Call to Action" »

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore Will Bring His Traveling Anti-Gay Marriage Circus To Texas


Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is taking his anti-gay-marriage show on the road. From a press release:

Conservative Republicans of Texas, Campaign for Texas Families, and other conservative organizations and leaders will sponsor a Defense of Texas Marriage Amendment Rally on the south steps of the Texas Capitol on Monday, March 23, 2015 at 1:00 pm.  Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore will deliver a keynote address describing his continuing efforts to preserve Alabama’s right to determine the definition of marriage.  

MooreMoore and the rest of the state Supreme Court issued a decision this week halting same-sex marriages, temporarily, in Alabama. Of course, marriage equality hasn't arrived in Texas, but presumably Moore will be providing tips on what to do if and when that happens.

Not that Texas legislators really need any such advice. They've already introduced legislation to bar county clerks from issuing same-sex marriage licenses. And Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is seeking to void the marriage of a 30-year lesbian couple, one of whom has ovarian cancer. Frankly, Texas legislators probably shouldn't be taking advice from Moore, since he was unable to stop same-sex marriages from occurring in Alabama for several weeks. 

From the press release: 

Marriage is a God ordained institution between a man and a woman and it is the fundamental foundation of families and of ordered societies: “For this cause a man shall leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave to his wife; and they shall become one flesh” (Gen. 2:24, Matt. 19:5).

In the November 8, 2005 General Election, the citizens of Texas passed, by an overwhelming margin of 76% to 24%, a Marriage Amendment to the Texas Constitution, Article 1, Section 32, which provides that “Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman.”

The press release doesn't mention that turnout in that election 10 years ago was 18 percent, or that some polls show more Texans now support same-sex marriage than oppose it: 

The purpose of this rally is to protect and preserve Biblical marriage. The Texas Legislature and state legislatures around the country can stop the federal courts’ encroachment on states’ rights to determine the definition of marriage. Rep. Cecil Bell, Jr., and Sen. Charles Perry have filed legislation that would prohibit any state or local government employee from issuing marriage licenses in violation of the Texas Constitution.  It would also prohibit the expenditure of taxpayer dollars for that purpose. The legislation is aimed at preserving Texas’ right to determine how marriage is defined.

We all know nationwide same-sex marriage is likely coming in June. With any luck, the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals will lift a stay of a federal judge's ruling striking down Texas' marriage ban prior to Moore's visit. If that happens, several Texas county clerks have already committed to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Wouldn't it be nice if gay couples could join Moore on the Capitol steps to cut their wedding cakes?   

George Takei Tells People to Give Alabama the 'Wedding Finger' After State Supreme Court Halts Gay Marriage


George Takei and husband Brad Altman are venting their frustration with the Alabama State Supreme Court in a creative way after the court ordered probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples earlier this week.

Wrote Takei on Facebook:

Alabama just gave SCOTUS the finger by halting marriage equality there despite federal orders. Couples, let's respond! Whether gay or straight, post a photo on FB or Twitter giving AL the "wedding finger" and tagging ‪#‎LuvUAlabama‬. Tag your state (e.g. ‪#‎NY‬) to join our nationwide map!

Among the faces joining Takei's campaign is Randy Thomas, the former Executive Vice President of (now-defunct) "ex-gay" group Exodus International, who came out as gay back in January. 



Alabama Supreme Court Halts Same-Sex Marriage In 'Defiant' Ruling

6a00d8341c730253ef01b8d0d6636f970c-300wiIn an opinion issued Tuesday night, the Alabama State Supreme Court upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage and in so doing contravened a ruling from a U.S. district court judge who down the marriage ban.

The court was unconvinced by and unconcerned with the streak of rulings (nearly 60 to date) from both federal and state courts which have found bans on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional, arguing, “state courts may interpret the United States Constitution independently from, and even contrary to, federal courts." The court stated it would not heed any order from any federal court contradicting its own save for the U.S. Supreme Court.

Remarkably, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore recused himself from the case.

The Washington Post reports:

The Alabama justices were defiant. “As it has done for approximately two centuries,” the court said, “Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman.” Alabama judges have a duty “not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

The resistance in Alabama, where states’ rights has always been sacred writ and state supreme court justices are elected rather than appointed, has been compared by many to that state’s resistance to school desegregation orders in the 1963, when Gov. George Wallace (D) stood in the doorway of the University of Alabama to prevent the court-ordered enrollment of black students.

Indeed, the court entrenched itself in its "choice" to uphold a "traditional" definition of marriage:

[The court] accused other courts of employing “sleight of hand” to confer “fundamental-rights status on a concept of marriage divorced from its traditional understanding.”

“Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage,” the court said in a per curiam opinion, issued in the name of the court rather than a specific justice. “… That fact does not change simply because the new definition of marriage has gained ascendancy in certain quarters of the country, even if one of those quarters is the federal judiciary.”

“Marriage has always been between members of the opposite sex,” it said. “The obvious reason for this immutable characteristic is nature. Men and women complement each other biologically and socially. Perhaps even more obvious, the sexual union between men and women (often) produces children. … In short, government has an obvious interest in offspring and the consequences that flow from the creation.”

The Human Rights Campaign (HRC) called the ruling bizarre, rambling and outrageous."The Alabama state Supreme Court does not have the authority to interfere with a federal court order," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. "This order is outrageous and baffling, and no amount of legalese can hide the bare animus that forms the foundation of this extralegal ruling."

The case is likely to be appealed to the federal courts. Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court is still slated to hear arguments this spring on challenges to same-sex marriage bans in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee. 

Read the ruling, AFTER THE JUMP...

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WATCH: AL Governor Robert Bentley's Pastor Prays for Him to Defy Court Ruling, Fight Gay Marriage


Alabama Governor Robert Bentley may have expressed his desire to see Alabama "move forward" on the issue of gay marriage and not repeat some of the same mistakes that have plagued his state in the past, but if it was up to his pastor, Bentley would still be standing George Wallace-style in courthouses across the state blocking gay couples from obtaining marriage licenses. 

Right Wing Watch reports:

BentleyIn a sermon earlier this month, Gil McKee, the pastor of the Tuscaloosa church attended by Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, recalled how he pleaded with the governor to stand with the state’s Chief Justice Roy Moore and refuse to follow a federal court ruling legalizing marriage equality in the state. [...]

McKee told his congregation that he had had a long talk with Bentley urging him to defy the courts on marriage, implying that same-sex marriage could lead to the collapse of the United States. 

“Here’s what I said to our governor yesterday,” McKee said. “'Governor, I don’t care if all 49 other states go for this same-sex marriage business, let’s be different in the state of Alabama. Let’s do what we know is the right thing to do … The reality is, we’re still living in a very conservative state. The people who are conservative and who are Christian, if you’ll just step up and lead out on this thing, if you’ll give the word to our chief justice to call all our probate judges…and say, "listen, don’t you issue one single license until the federal government does its thing and we decide whether we’re going to follow it or not, don’t you issue one of those." I’m telling you, the people of this state would rally behind that.'” 

Watch a portion of the hate-filled sermon, AFTER THE JUMP...

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Lesbian Couple That Brought Down Alabama's Gay Marriage Ban Sues State Over Second-Parent Adoption

6a00d8341c730253ef01b7c74003ab970b-800wi (1)

Previously, we told you about Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, the Mobile, Alabama couple that sued the state to recognize their 2008 wedding in California as legitimate and sought crowdfunding to help to pay for the $40,000 in legal fees they incurred fighting the discriminatory ban. The couple is set to head back to court, filing a new lawsuit against the state, demanding that Searcy's request for a second-parent adoption of the child the couple have raised together be granted immediately. Probate Judge Don Davis had denied the petition despite the recent ruling striking down Alabama's marriage ban. Davis said he would not consider the matter until the Supreme Court rules on the same-sex marriage cases it agreed to undertake. 

As reports, the very reason Searcy and McKeand challenged Alabama's marriage ban in the first place was so that Searcy could be legally recognized as a parent to their son:

David Kennedy, one of the couple's lawyers, expressed exasperation at Davis' decision. He noted that the U.S. Supreme Court allowed U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade's order to take effect and that Granade handed down a separate order on Feb. 13 specifically instructing Davis to stop enforcing the gay marriage ban.

"I'm disappointed. The United States Supreme Court made a decision with the ruling in the Searcy case," he said. "We don't think that it's fair or equitable to Cari Searcy to wait until the Supreme Court has ruled on some 6th Circuit (U.S. Court of Appeals) case." [...]

On Friday, Davis issued an "interlocutory decree" granting Searcy temporary parental rights, including the authority to consent to necessary medical treatment. Such temporary orders are standard in second-parent adoptions until the court can convene a hearing to review any potential objection to a permanent adoption.

Those final hearings typically last about 15 minutes, according to lawyers familiar with those proceedings.

But Davis included a paragraph stating, "It is further ORDERED by the Court that this Decree is qualified in nature, and the Court will not issue a final adoption order until a final ruling is issued in the United States Supreme Court on the Marriage Act cases before it."

In addition to the court order instructing Davis to grant the adoption without further delay, the lawsuit also asks for compensatory and - if the judge deems it appropriate - punitive damages, as well as legal fees.

While the interlocutory decree grants Searcy some additional rights it does guarantee that Searcy would have custody over the child should her wife die. 


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