Same-sex marriage on hold, at least until Feb.9

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The same federal judge who struck down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban last Friday agreed on Sunday to put that order on hold for 14 days.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade rejected arguments by the Attorney General’s Office that the state likely would win on appeal. But she agreed to give attorneys two weeks to make their case.

Granade’s ruling came in a case filed by Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand of Mobile, who said that they had been a couple for more than a decade and had a child, now 8, with the help of a sperm donor. However, an Alabama court refused to let Searcy be recognized as the child’s adoptive parent because state law did not recognize the couple as spouses.

If the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals fails to act in that time to extend or life the stay, Granade’s order striking down the same-sex marriage ban will take effect on Feb. 9. The judge said she also would issue a follow-up opinion clarifying the original order.

Before Granade issued the stay, Probate Judge Ben Bowden, responsible for marriage licenses in Covington County, said he isn’t sure the ruling applies outside of Granade’s district. Covington County is part of the Middle District Court of Alabama; Judge Granade is in the Southern District.

“As it stands now, I don’t plan to issue any marriage licenses to same sex couples,” Bowden said late Friday. “That could change as I research the effect of a federal judge’s opinion from the Southern District of Alabama on a county like Covington that is located in the Middle District.”

Bowden said despite his personal feelings about the issue, he also doesn’t plan to defy a court order.

“I plan on doing some research and will consult with the county attorney before making a final decision,” he said.

On Monday, he reiterated that no licenses are being sold to same-sex couples.

“We are not issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples at this time,” he said. “Alabama law currently prohibits us from doing so. The ruling from the federal judge in the Southern District is on hold for 14 days. We anticipate additional court rulings in the near future.”