On the second anniversary of the United States Supreme Court’s decision on the Defense of Marriage Act, the court decided 5-4 to legalize gay marriage in the United States.
Jefferson County Probate Judge Sherri Friday said that she is prepared to resume same-sex marriages in the wake of the decision.
“Right now we are ready to go. We are just waiting for people to show up now,” Friday said in the Jefferson County Probate Court chambers. “We had a meeting about this on Wednesday so we were kind of expecting this decision,” she said.
Friday said that she does not expect any interference from the state in regards to ordering a halt to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “We have lawyers in place if anything like that happens,” Friday said.
Early on Friday morning, advocates began to gather outside of the Jefferson County Courthouse. Eva Walton Kendrick, an organizer with the Alabama Human Rights Campaign, said that when she heard the news she “jumped for joy, all by myself at the courthouse this morning.”
After waiting for the last decision and having Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore put a halt to gay marriages in Alabama, Kendrick said that she didn’t want to get her hopes up too much before Friday’s decision.
“We have a very poetic Supreme Court to announce this on the second anniversary of the DOMA decision. When we got the word, I was the only person here and I started jumping and laughing and crying,” Kendrick said from the steps of the courthouse.
“It’s something that I never thought we would see and to see it so quickly — a revolution of hearts and minds — is just wonderful. Here in Alabama, I think that we had just accepted that this wouldn’t happen for us,” Kendrick said.
Friday said that the decision is fairly straightforward and she does not see any way the state could argue against allowing same sex couples from getting married.
In the majority decision, Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote, “No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice, and family. In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than once they were,” Kennedy wrote. “As some of the petitioners in these cases demonstrate, marriage embodies a love that may endure even past death.”
On February 9, Alabama became the 37th state to allow same-sex marriages following the expiration of the two-week stay ordered by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade, whose ruling had overturned Alabama’s ban on gay marriage on Jan. 24.
However, not long afterwards, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state’s probate courts to halt issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
“Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage,” the Alabama Supreme Court said in a per curiam decision.
“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,” the court said.
Moore, who has a history of defying federal court orders, has gone on record as labeling gay marriage an “abomination.”
Governor Robert Bentley issued a statement on Friday morning saying, “I honestly think that it should be left up to the states if government should be involved in marriage at all. You have to have a definition of marriage. The definition of marriage goes back thousands of years. It’s between one man and one woman. I believe the court can make errors,” reported WIAT 42.
Birmingham residents Clay Jones and Joe Babin were among the first same-sex couples to be married in Alabama on February 9. Despite the state’s putting a stop to gay marriages in the state, the couple was and is still recognized by the state as a married couple.
Friday’s Supreme Court decision only validates their union even more.
Babin said he was elated to hear the news on Friday. “When I read the decision, I got to say it hit me pretty hard. It just feels great,” Babin said over the phone.
However, Babin admits he doesn’t think gay couples in Alabama are completely “out of the dark” yet because he expects opposition from state leaders, Moore specifically. But, Babin said, he’s not going to let Moore ruin this “joyous day” for same-sex couples across the country.
Since their marriage on February 9, Jones and Babin have been in the process of adopting. Babin said that this decision should alleviate some of the roadblocks with the Department of Human Resources.
“We’ve already had the background checks with the FBI and have had our HIV testing complete. Now we are just waiting for our home visit. But, as I understand it, it will take DHR to change their bylaws regarding marriages between two men,” Babin said.
But for now, Babin said, “It’s a good day to celebrate.”