Keith Ingram has fallen in love, and he wants to get married. It's a familiar story.But this one has a twist. Because the person he loves is a man, there are obstacles to his happiness: Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore, and the probate judges who followed his order not to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
“He [Houston County Probate Judge Patrick Davenport] said to us that he had to see something from a higher court ‘pass through his desk’ before he accepted gay marriages, telling us that a federal judge’s opinion didn’t apply to him and saying he hadn’t heard anything about the supreme court ruling,” Ingram told the Guardian. As a result, he and his partner, Albert Pigg, were unable to marry earlier this week.Davenport didn’t express a sectarian motivation for his decision to Ingram and Pigg. Other probate judges, however, certainly have.
“I'm not going to be a party to it,” Geneva County Probate Judge Fred Hamic told the Associated Press. “I was raised in a Christian home and I was taught that it is a sin.” The judge is now refusing to grant any marriages licenses at all.Another probate judge, John Emerson Enslen of Elmore County, slammed marriage equality in a public Facebook post. “My personal opinion is that gay marriage is repugnant and repulsive to God. In other words, I believe Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for just such unnatural conduct between the same sexes. I believe other revealed scriptures which condemn homosexual practices and behavior,” he wrote.
“Beyond that, it is my fervent hope and prayer that the U. S. Supreme Court will be moved upon by God to rule that the people of a state have a right to define and restrict marriage to the traditional, child bearing, child rearing, and child centered relationship that has worked well for thousands of years and is consistent with sound social science,” Enslen added.
And Moore has other, unwelcome allies.
The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the United Dixie White Knights, a Mississippi-based chapter of the Ku Klux Klan, weighed in on the chief justice’s behalf.
“The Mississippi Klan salutes Alabama’s chief justice Roy Moore, for refusing to bow to the yoke of Federal tyranny,” imperial wizard Brent Waller wrote in a post on a white supremacist website called Stormfront.“We as White Christians intend to see that no outside agitators bully or intimidate the White Christian majority in the State of Alabama,” he added. “We salute those like the chief justice for standing against the Immoral, Ungodly and activist Federal Judges.”
I don’t include this quote in order to imply the chief justice and similarly inclined probate judges are members of the KKK; there is no evidence that’s true. I include it to point out that they share their position with some unsavory bedfellows. When the KKK applauds you for doing the Lord’s work, it is time to reconsider your course of action.Like Moore and the probate judges, I am a life-long Southerner, and I know the region has much to offer. We pride ourselves on our tight-knit communities, our lavish hospitality and our commitment to our values.And like the couples Americans United has agreed to represent, I am familiar with the ugly side of life in the South. Moore’s words and actions dredge up painful regional memories; the George Wallace comparisons persist for valid reasons. We are once again faced with an elected official determined to stand directly in the path of civil rights, and we are weary.
Alabama deserves better than Roy Moore. It deserves better than the probate judges who side with him. Keith Ingram, Albert Pigg, and their peers in the LGBT community should be able to exercise their constitutional rights without obstruction and intimidation. It is unconscionable that one official should abuse his public office to keep his constituents mired so firmly in a troubled past.
Yesterday, U.S. District Judge Callie V. Granade -- an appointee of President George W. Bush -- ordered Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The ruling specifically applies to Davis, and it is still unclear if other probate judges will (correctly) interpret the ruling as relevant to them. If the state’s probate judges still refuse to issue licenses, Americans United has agreed to represent Ingram and Pigg, in addition to three other same-sex couples.We’re proud to do this. It also shouldn’t be necessary. It’s time for state officials to accept reality and leave bigotry to the Klan.