Alabama politicians are capitulating to liberal demand. Gay marriage is legal in the U.S. and religious government workers are powerless to stop it. Recognizing this, the state legislature is pushing an unusual bill through Congress.
No more marriage licenses. It’s a simple, elegant solution to a thorny problem. Alabamians who are uncomfortable with the idea of being involved in a gay marriage ceremony are unlikely to change their minds anytime soon. Forcing people to defy their convictions at the risk of their careers is barbaric.
The state will still recognize marriages, but couples will now be required to file an affidavit with a judge.
“It removes the discretion from the judges,” the bill’s sponsor, Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton, said. “The judges can no longer say yes or no.”
Alabama conservatives have been at war with LGBT activists ever since the Supreme Court case Obergefell v. Hodges was decided. The justices struck down gay marriage prohibitions.
“We would not have changed this had it not been for Obergefell… But without the change, the law remains in conflict with Obergefell. So we got to make some changes to the law to come into compliance,” Albritton said.
“No one particularly likes changing our law, I’ll tell you that… However, under the circumstances, it’s the best thing we can do.”
Critics complain that Albritton is trying to denigrate marriage, that the move is a mean-spirited ploy to undermine LGBT couples. Others are more reasonable, they understand that Sen. Albritton has proposed a delicate solution to the tricky problem.
“Some see this as a way to protect local probate judges from being forced to issue gay marriage licenses, which is both morally and politically problematic for a lot of them,” Todd Stacy, the publisher of the Alabama Daily News, said.
“But I take Sen. Albritton at face value when he argues that this is a church-state issue to him and many others… For many social conservatives, the question is, if the state cannot define marriage the way it wants, why should it be in the marriage business at all?”
Sen. Albritton’s bill asks couples to certify that their spouse is of consenting age. That’s it. The state’s role is passive, the judges merely record the affidavit.
“I disagree with the proposed legislation to replace state marriage licenses with private contracts,” Moore said. “We need to take a stand for holy matrimony and defend our laws as defined by God and the Constitution of Alabama.”
What are the state’s responsibilities? The Supreme Court ruled that local governments were powerless to dictate marriage laws. Albritton’s instinct to separate the marriage process from the state as much as possible is sensible.
“When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties,” explained Albritton. “Early twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great-grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.”
The conflict exists because Alabama citizens tend to be deeply religious. Conservative, orthodox Christians, while accepting of all people, do not feel comfortable embracing LGBT lifestyles. Democrats believe that people should be forced to ignore their beliefs, but that’s impractical.
“It’s because there is more biblical literacy in Alabama than most other places,” said Dr. Joe Godfrey, Executive Director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, when asked why LGBT issues were so contentious within the state.
“The Bible clearly teaches us that marriage is between one man and women for life. Everyone teaches that people grow up believing that. No one is willing to change the Bible around here. Society and culture need to adjust to fit in with what the Bible teaches, not vice versa.”
LGBTQ organizer Mario Burton and Alabama resident agrees: “The issue of same-sex marriage is absolutely rooted in religion… But we’re still so far behind the rest of the country in that discussion. We still have to get people to understand identity before we even move on to marriage equality.”