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Alabama Goes Scorched-Earth Over Same-Sex Marriage, Votes to Eliminate Marriage Licenses and Weddings Altogether


The Alabama House of Representatives just passed a bill that is a slap in the face to marriage equality. Since gay weddings are to be on equal footing with straight ones, Alabama will make all weddings meaningless.

Lawmakers have decided that Sections 22-9A-17, 30-1-5, 30-1-12, and 30-1-16 of the Code of Alabama should be amended to abolish any requirement that couples getting married obtain marriage licenses — or have even have wedding ceremonies at all. Now, those wishing to marry can just fill out some forms, submit them to the probate office, and emerge as spouse and spouse. Easy peasy.

The bill, which passed 67 to 26, was sponsored by Alabama State Sen. Greg Albritton (R), and has both the Alabama wedding industry and advocates for LGBT rights up in arms. While the law as amended would, in a technical sense, treat everyone equally, the change was clearly made to appease opponents of same-sex marriage.

“I feel like it was born out of prejudice,” said Alabama State Rep. Neil Rafferty (D), who voted against the bill. Rafferty is the only openly gay member of the Alabama House.

Lawmakers who supported the bill included Alabama State Rep. Wes Allen (R), a former probate judge, who stopped issuing marriage licenses in 2015 when the Supreme Court ruled that states must allow same-sex marriage.

Allen reverted to the classic, “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” and reminded the press that, in 2006, about 80 percent of Alabama voters approved a constitutional amendment restricting marriage to opposite-sex couples. Allen likened the signing of a marriage license to signing a check – saying, “you’re endorsing it.” Allen chose to made no reference to major legal precedents occurring a decade after 2006 that made same-sex marriage the law of the land.

Never one to put the legal rights of its citizens before discriminatory actions by its government officials, Alabama lawmakers sprang into action. Like a frustrated mom confiscating a toy from arguing children, the state legislature adopted a “Fine, now nobody gets it” system.

The bill now heads to Gov. Kay Ivey’s (R) desk to be signed into law. Governor Ivey has been making headlines of late in conjunction with her support of Alabama’s unprecedentedly restrictive abortion laws.

You may be asking: “Aren’t a whole bunch of people boycotting Alabama over those abortion laws?” and “Won’t eliminating weddings harm the state’s economy even more?”

Yep. That’s right. Some in the wedding business in Alabama worry that the legal change will make their entire industry obsolete.

Wedding venue owner Don Booze explained that under the new laws, “’I now pronounce you man and wife’ will be totally meaningless because that man and wife union happens at the courthouse.”

That’s certainly something of a plot twist.

Until now, it was supposed to be liberals who were hell-bent on destroying the concept of marriage. Wasn’t that what the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) was all about?

While Alabama’s legislature was tying up loose ends on its marriage laws, it made sure that teenagers could also benefit from this new no-license, no-wedding system.  Under the amended statute, 16 and 17-year-olds are good to go as long as one parent sends a notarized affidavit to the probate court. Good to know the Yellowhammer State has its priorities straight.

[image via screengrab]

This is an opinion piece. The views expressed in this article are those of just the author.

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Elura is a columnist and trial analyst for Law & Crime. Elura is also a former civil prosecutor for NYC's Administration for Children's Services, the CEO of Lawyer Up, and the author of How To Talk To Your Lawyer and the Legalese-to-English series. Follow Elura on Twitter @elurananos