Thursday, May 21, 2015
Alabama Same-Sex Marriage Litigation Update: Federal Judge Grants Class Certification and Issues (but Stays) Class-Wide Injunction
Things had been fairly quiet in the litigation over Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban (here’s where things stood back in March). Today, U.S. District Judge Callie Granade made two important rulings in the Strawser case. In one order, she certified both a plaintiff class and a defendant class under Rule 23(b)(2). She wrote:
Plaintiffs’ motion to certify a Plaintiff Class consisting of all persons in Alabama who wish to obtain a marriage license in order to marry a person of the same sex and to have that marriage recognized under Alabama law, and who are unable to do so because of the enforcement of Alabama’s laws prohibiting the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and barring recognition of their marriages is GRANTED.
Plaintiffs’ motion to certify a Defendant Class consisting of all Alabama county probate judges who are enforcing or in the future may enforce Alabama’s laws barring the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples and refusing to recognize their marriages is GRANTED.
In another order, Judge Granade concluded—yet again—that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Accordingly, she granted the plaintiff’s motion for a preliminary injunction; but she also ordered that “because the issues raised by this case are subject to an imminent decision by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges and related cases, the above preliminary injunction is STAYED until the Supreme Court issues its ruling.”From the order:
It is ORDERED and DECLARED that ALA. CONST. art. I, § 36.03 (2006) and ALA. CODE 1975 § 30-1-19 are unconstitutional because they violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Plaintiffs’ motion for preliminary injunction (Doc 76) is GRANTED and Judge Don Davis, Judge Tim Russell and the members of the Defendant Class are hereby ENJOINED from enforcing the Alabama laws which prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage. If the named Plaintiffs or any members of the Plaintiff Class take all steps that are required in the normal course of business as a prerequisite to issuing a marriage license to opposite-sex couples, Judge Don Davis, Judge Tim Russell and the members of the Defendant Class may not deny them a license on the ground that they are same-sex couples or because it is prohibited by the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act or by any other Alabama law or Order, including any injunction issued by the Alabama Supreme Court pertaining to same-sex marriage. This injunction binds all the officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with Judge Don Davis, Judge Tim Russell or any of the members of the Defendant Class who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage.
Plaintiffs are ORDERED to provide notice of this order and the order granting class certification to each member of the Defendant Class by mailing copies of both orders by certified mail to each class member at his or her office. The notices should be mailed on or before May 26, 2015. It is FURTHER ORDERED that because the issues raised by this case are subject to an imminent decision by the United States Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges and related cases, the above preliminary injunction is STAYED until the Supreme Court issues its ruling.