Alabama legislators are being absurdly indulgent toward discrimination.
To accommodate Alabama probate judges who don't want to issue marriages licenses to same-sex couples, Alabama legislators are now considering doing away with marriage licenses altogether.
Senate Bill 20 is a massive overreaction to a nonexistent problem. The bill has a discriminatory purpose of appeasing anti-gay religious sentiments. Please take action against this unnecessary bill and tell lawmakers that religious dogma is no excuse for Alabama probate judges to stop doing their jobs.
SB 20 passed the Alabama Senate last week and is currently in the House Judiciary Committee.
Please call and/or email the committee chair today to voice your opposition to a bill that will senselessly eliminate marriage licenses in Alabama. If you have a representative on the committee, his or her name should also appear when you click the links. If you are a constituent of a representative on the committee, your opinion will really matter, so please make sure you identify as a constituent when you ask him or her to oppose the bill. (We also encourage you to speak out against the bill on social media or in a letter to your editor.)
Let our simple automated contact system contact him or her for you via phone or email. The wording in the automated comment section is editable. We encourage you to add your own thoughts to personalize the message text, subject heading or signature. This will make your message more effective in swaying your legislator.
(Keep reading if you wish to learn more about the bill.)
When the Supreme Court held that same-sex couples have a right to marry in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, the theocratic Moore, who is currently facing his second round of serious ethics charges as Alabama's Chief Justice, ordered probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, à la Kim Davis. SB 20 is an attempt to buttress Roy Moore's religion-based position by stopping Alabama judges from issuing marriage licenses altogether.
The bill's author, state Sen. Greg Albritton, reportedly said the bill will resolve "confusion over marriage licenses." But, really, there is no confusion on this issue. Some probate judges are upset about marriage equality, not confused about it. If they are unwilling to perform their duties because their religious beliefs conflict with the law, they should not work in a secular government.
Similar bills have been advanced in several other states. An Oklahoma legislator, Todd Russ, advocated for this legislation in 2015 by explaining that the point is to "leave marriage in the hands of the clergy." The state should never defer to a church for a legal identification. Marriage has many legal ramifications involving the state, so it makes sense for the state to issue marriage licenses.
At least one Alabama probate judge expressed concern that the bill was not only unnecessary, but could create legal concerns because it weakens the documentation required to make sure a couple is legally eligible to marry. Overall, the bill is unnecessary, gives deference to clergy on a state issue, and may create unexpected legal problems. Instead of abolishing marriage licenses, the solution for Alabama is simple: replace bible-thumping probate judges who are not willing to do their jobs.