Alabama Politics

A federal judge in Alabama today struck down that state’s ban on same-sex marriage, saying it violated same-sex couples’ rights to due process and equal protection. No stay has been placed, so same-sex couples should be able to marry as soon as clerks’ offices open. 

“There has been no evidence presented that these marriage laws have any effect on the choices of couples to have or raise children, whether they are same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples,” Judge Granade writes. “In sum, the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama.”

Granade continues Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional for the same reason the U.S. Supreme Court ruled against the Defense of Marriage Act in 2013.

“If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children,” Granade writes. “Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples.”

ALABAMA. YOU READ THAT RIGHT. 

Maps featuring Texas, Mississippi, Alabama, North Carolina, Virginia, North Dakota, Ohio, and Wisconsin regarding how many clinics will close down in the states affected. 

Three of those mentioned were won by Obama both times (Wisconsin, Ohio, Virginia) and a fourth (North Carolina) was won by Obama in 2008, then Romney in 2012.

Gay Alabama politician has a bold plan to expose her anti-gay colleagues’ hypocrisy

A federal judge overturned Alabama’s ban on gay marriage Friday, and not every state legislator is thrilled about it. After  her fellow lawmakers decided to make some awfully ignorant comments, Rep. Patricia Todd vowed to take matters into her own hands.

“I will not stand by and allow legislators to talk about ‘family values’”

Two years ago, the nation was introduced to Viviette Applewhite, a 93-year-old widow in Pennsylvania who had marched with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Applewhite has voted in nearly every election for the last-half century – right up until 2012, when the state told this African-American woman she wouldn’t be allowed to cast a ballot because Republicans policymakers had created a voter-ID law to combat voter fraud that didn’t exist.   After Applewhite’s story garnered national attention, election officials helped get her situation straightened out – and more recently, the law itself was struck down as unconstitutional – but the incident was a reminder about the real-world impact of unnecessary voter-ID laws.   Two years later, Zachary Roth introduces us to a similar face – of the same age – in the “war on voting.”

Willie Mims, 93, showed up to vote at his polling place in Escambia County Tuesday morning for Alabama’s primary elections. Mims, who is Africa-American, no longer drives, doesn’t have a license, and has no other form of ID. As a result, he was turned away without voting. Mims wasn’t even offered the chance to cast a provisional ballot, as the law requires in that situation.   Jenny McCarren of Empower Alabama, a progressive group that gave Mims a ride to the polls, recounted the story for msnbc. McCarren said Mims’s voter file showed he has voted in every election since 2000, as far back as the records go.   How many Alabamans lack ID isn’t known – in part because the state made no effort to find out before the ID law. But nationwide, most studies put the figure at around 11%, and as high as 25% for African Americans.

Up until last year, there’s no way Alabama’s voter-suppression law would have been cleared by the Justice Department, but because a narrow Supreme Court majority gutted the Voting Rights Act, Alabama’s voter-ID law was never subjected to federal scrutiny.   It’s against this backdrop that the Alabama Republican Party is “so desperate” to prove imaginary voter fraud exists, GOP officials are offering cash rewards.

Tuesday is the first test of Alabama’s voter ID law – and the state’s Republicans are desperate to dig up some voter fraud. So desperate, in fact, that they’re offering a $1,000 reward to anyone who helps them find any. […]   Bill Armistead, the Alabama GOP chair, wrote on the party’s website Monday that Republicans will fork over the cold hard cash to anyone who provides “information that directly leads to a conviction of a felony for voter fraud.” Signs saying “Reward – Stop Voter Fraud,” and directing people to call a toll-free hotline, will be placed at polling sites around the state both for Tuesday’s primaries and November’s general election, Armistead added.

I can appreciate the degree to which party leaders are eager to substantiate their reckless voter-suppression tactics. These laws, the harshest voting restrictions seen in the United States since the Jim Crow era, are impossible to defend if they address a problem that doesn’t exist.   But there’s no reason to believe the Alabama Republican Party will have to pay up anytime soon – voter fraud is still a problem that exists solely in the minds of far-right imaginations.   As for 93-year-old Willie Mims being turned away before he could participate in his own democracy, now would be an ideal time for Alabama officials to feel ashamed of themselves.

h/t: Steve Benen at MSNBC’s Maddow Blog 

BREAKING NEWS: Federal Judge Strikes Down Alabama's Same-Sex Marriage Ban

Big news coming out of the Southern district of Alabama.

A federal judge in Mobile has just struck down the state’s marriage ban on same-sex marriage, ruling that it is unconstitutional and violates the Fourteenth Amendment.

Via the Washington Blade

In a 10-page decision on Friday, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, an appointee of George W. Bush, issued summary judgement in favor of a plaintiff same-sex couple, finding Alabama marriage laws violate the couple’s right to due process and equal protection under the U.S. Constitution.

Even bigger news? There is no stay on the landmark decision, so it looks like same-sex couples may be able to marry in the state of Alabama as soon as the clerk’s office is open for business.

We are awaiting to hear reaction from Governor Robert Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange (the named defendant in the case of Cari D. Searcy and Kimberly McKeand) and to see if these individuals - longtime opponents of marriage equality - plan to appeal the court’s decision.

To read a. PDF document of today’s ruling, click here

UPDATE (1/23; 6:47 p.m.): Not surprised. The office of Alabama’s attorney general announced that it plans to fight the court ruling.

“We are disappointed and are reviewing the Federal District Court’s decision,” spokesman Mike Lewis said via email. “We expect to ask for a stay of the court’s judgment pending the outcome of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling which will ultimately decide this case.”

UPDATE: (1/23; 7:10 p.m.) A startling fact on the judge in this case:

FYI, the judge who ruled in Alabama #GayMarriage decision was a Bush appointee.

— Steve Chiotakis (@RadioChio)

January 24, 2015

This story is still developing. Stay with us.

The U.S. Needs a Constitutional Right to Vote

It is becoming increasingly obvious that the Supreme Court decision in Shelby County v. Holder, which eviscerated the Voting Rights Act, is leading to a new era of voter suppression that parallels the pre-1960s era—this time affecting not just African-Americans but also Hispanic-Americans, women, and students, among others.

The reasoning employed by Chief Justice John Roberts in Shelby County—that Section 5 of the act was such a spectacular success that it is no longer necessary—was the equivalent of taking down speed cameras and traffic lights and removing speed limits from a dangerous intersection because they had combined to reduce accidents and traffic deaths.

In North Carolina, a post-Shelby County law not only includes one of the most restrictive and punitive voter-ID laws anywhere but also restricts early voting, eliminates same-day voting registration, ends pre-registration for 16- and 17-year-olds, and bans many provisional ballots. Whatever flimsy voter-fraud excuse exists for requiring voter ID disappears when it comes to these other obstacles to voting.

Read more. [Image: Gary Cameron/Reuters]

Alabama’s chief justice just might be the George Wallace of gay rights 

This month, federal courts threw out Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban.

But Alabama Chief Justice Roy S. Moore is proclaiming himself above the law. Instead, he’s taken the unique position that his state doesn’t have to be bound by any federal authority on gay marriage, even if the federal Supreme Court rules later this year that prohibitions on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional.

History seems to be repeating itself

'Former U.S. Rep. Jesse Jackson Jr. has been moved from a fed prison in North Carolina to a minimum-security prison camp in Montgomery, Ala., after clashing with prison officials and being placed in solitary confinement...The...former Chicago congressman, 49, had been advising other inmates in North Carolina about their rights in prison...who said a guard took exception to that.'

more.

The Alabama parole board on Thursday granted posthumous pardons in the “Scottsboro Boys” rape case, seeking to correct one of the more infamous racist cases that scarred the Deep South in the 1930s and that has reverberated through the nation’s consciousness ever since.

The board unanimously approved a petition granting a posthumous pardon to three of the group who still had convictions on their records. The pardons had been expected since the Alabama Legislature passed a law in the spring to allow the board to grant pardons for crimes older than 75 years — a move specifically directed at closing the last part of the case.

The case had all the elements that marked the South’s heritage of racism from its days of slavery. It included a frame-up on the charges, a recanting by a key witness, conviction by an all-white jury, angry mobs and an attempted lynching. The case helped mobilize popular outrage against race-based justice, redefined how juries were chosen and was even immortalized in popular culture including a recent theater production based on the incident.

Gee. How fucking generous of you, Alabama. Now how about some reparations for the community?

Restrictions include:

  • Banning abortion after a fetal heartbeat is detected (as early as 6 weeks, before many women know they are pregnant)
  • Force patients with severe fetal anomalies to listen to information about perinatal hospice care
  • Increase the waiting period from 24 to 48 hours for all abortions
  • Require parents to produce a birth certificate along with parental consent for minors
  • Allow abusive parents to attend their pregnant child’s court proceedings for judicial bypass, and prevent minors from telling judges they are being abused

The bill now goes to the Republican-controlled House for a vote. Alabama residents, please contact your representatives and sign the Choice USA petition to stop this bill!

Yeah, you read that right.

Last week, a court in Alabama ruled that the state’s “sexual misconduct” law, which essentially outlawed gay sex, is unconstitutional. This was the first court ruling on the law since Lawrence v. Texas found consensual sex bans unconstitutional in 2003.

It may seem like a “no duh” move on the court’s part, but prosecutors inthe stateswhere bans remain on the books occasionally trot these laws out to convict people. The defendant in the Alabama casewas initially tried for first degree sodomy— a much more serious sexual assault charge — but was convicted instead of sexual misconduct, a lesser charge to which “consent is no defense.” 

That law, which prohibits oral or anal sexual contact between unmarried adults, all but explicitly targets same-sex conduct and had remained untested in the wake of Lawrence v. Texas. The defendant was sentenced to a year in jail and two years of probation, which is serious time for someone convicted under an unconstitutional statute.

Why, yes, Alabama – the year IS 2014! We’re so glad you asked.