MONTGOMERY, Ala. (AP) – The couple whose lawsuit led to a judge overturning Alabama’s ban on gay marriage on Thursday urged an appellate court to let the ruling stand and reject the state’s effort to put it on hold.
Lawyers for Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand said gay couples in the state are harmed every day that they live without the legal protection of marriage. The attorneys argued in a filing with the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta that the sanctity of marriage laws defining marriage as between a man and a woman are legally irrational.
“It is equally irrational and arbitrary for the state of Alabama to force this family to wait any longer to solidify the safety, dignity, and standing of their family,” lawyers for the couple wrote.
Last week’s order by U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade would make Alabama the 37th state where gays can legally wed. The Alabama attorney general has asked the court to place the order on hold, citing the expectation that the U.S. Supreme Court will issue a nationwide ruling on gay marriage later this year.
Searcy and McKeand were legally wed in California and have a 9-year-old son together who was conceived with the help of a sperm donor. They filed a federal lawsuit after a court refused to recognize Searcy as the adoptive parent of the boy because they were not spouses under Alabama law.
Granade’s stay on her ruling will expire Feb. 9 unless the 11th Circuit extends it.
The attorney general’s office on Monday asked the 11th Circuit to keep the ruling on hold. The state argued that a stay would avoid “chaos and confusion that will result if same sex marriages are temporarily legal in Alabama.”
The attorney general’s office argued there was a likelihood of additional litigation over the issuance of marriage licenses since probate judges were not a party in the lawsuit.
The president of the Alabama Probate judges Association said Thursday that a follow-up order by Granade is “abundantly clear” to him that judges are bound by last week’s decision overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage.
“I have talked to many probate judges, and when they lift the stay, they will sell marriage licenses to same-sex and to heterosexual couples,” Monroe County Probate Judge Greg Norris said.
However, Norris said the opinion of the association is nonbinding, and said each judge is the decision-maker in their jurisdiction.
Granade issued a clarification order after the probate judges group initially said the ruling did not require them to issue licenses.