Alabama Judge Uses Segregation-Era Law to Avoid Gay Marriages

As Alabama's all-white Legislature tried to preserve racial segregation and worried about the possibility of mixed-race marriages in 1961, lawmakers rewrote state law to make it optional for counties to issue marriage licenses.

Now, some judges who oppose same-sex marriage are using the long-forgotten amendment to get out of the marriage business altogether rather than issue even one wedding license to gays or lesbians. In at least nine of Alabama's 67 counties, judges have quit issuing marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex unions in June.

The 54-year-old provision says probate courts "may" issue rather than "shall" issue wedding licenses.

Under a statue that went back decades, couples had to get marriage licenses in the county where the woman lived or where they planned to wed. The law had the effect of requiring each county to issue wedding licenses.

But that changed under Glass and Taylor's bill, according to the Alabama Legislative Reference Service, which researches laws and drafts legislation.

The new law, which records show passed unanimously, included this line: "Marriage licenses may be issued by the judges of probate of the several counties." Since the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling, some same-sex marriage opponents have used that word "may" to avoid issuing marriage licenses.

So far, no one has sued them.

Manhattan Chick-Fil-A Opening Draws Fans and Gay/Anti-Gay Protests

Protesters, counter protesters and the hungry fans braved a rainy chilly Herald Square in Manhattan, Saturday to attend the opening of Gotham's first Chick-Fil-A, the controversial fast food chain known for both its CEO's anti-gay views and delicious food.

According to The New York Daily News, a 20-minute-long line stretched down West 37th Street in Manhattan Saturday for the opening of the city's first Chick-Fil-A. But not everyone in front of the conservative-owned fast food chain were there for the food. A number of the crowd who attended the opening were there in protest.

"I was very shocked by the amount of people lining up to support this company," said Lila Trenkova, a founder of Collectively Free, an animal and gay rights activist group to The Daily News. "I think that it's ignorance rather than people actually not caring."

The controversy surrounding Chick-Fil-A started in 2012, when its CEO, Dan [Cathy] publicly opposed same-sex marriage. This led to a well-publicized gay "kiss-in" at numerous Chick-Fil-A stores and an even better publicized "Chick-Fil-A Appreciation Day," organized by anti-gay GOP presidential hopeful Mike Huckabee. The company has since backed away from its public anti-gay statements and even offers full benefits for employees' same-sex partners.

"We're here to protest violence towards animals and GGBTQ individuals," Raffaella Ciavatta of Bay Ridge Brooklyn told Gothamist. "Chick-fil-A perpetuates the idea that some lives matter more than others, and that is the root of all that is wrong with the world."

Gothamist points out that the protest ended up being a double-header when a counter-protest of "Bible-Believers" showed up with chants of "Repent!" and "Sodomy is a sin! God hates gay!"

"I'm gay and I'm obsessed with Chick-fil-A" Prospect Heights resident Courtney Kim told Gothamist from the middle of the line. "My motto is that they'll never hate gay people as much as I love fried chicken." 

Anti-Gay N.J. Republican Quits Council Seat

(AP) A New Jersey Assembly candidate who dropped out of the race after a book of rants he wrote about gays, breast-feeding moms and others surfaced has also resigned from his council seat.

River Edge Mayor Sandy Moscaritolo tells The Record that Republican Anthony Cappola resigned from the council Friday.

Cappola acknowledged last week that he wrote the book titled "Outrageous!" and said he wasn't the same person he was 12 years ago when he wrote it.

The mayor says that he worked well with Cappola and that he had contributed as a council member, even using his skills as a disc jockey to help at events.

Republicans denounced Cappola's language in the book that included saying gay people should keep their "sexual preferences" ''behind doors like normal people do."

Trans Issues to be Discussed by Southern Baptist Seminary

(AP) A conference hosted by the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary will focus on what it calls the "present crisis" of gay and transgender issues.

The conservative seminary says it's their first-ever conference on transgender issues. Heath Lambert, a speaker at the conference, says in a release that issues like cross-gender bathrooms and children choosing their gender require an urgent Christian response. Lambert is executive director of The Association of Certified Biblical Counselors.

He says the goal of the conference is to "help the church respond in the present crisis with the wisdom and love of Jesus Christ."

The conference titled "Transgender Confusion and Transformational Christianity" begins on Monday.

The Fairness Campaign, a Louisville gay-rights advocacy group, has announced plans to protest across the street from the conference.

NYC St. Patrick’s Day Parade Lifts Ban on LGBT Groups

(IrishQueers) After 25 years The NYC St. Patrick’s Day parade has dropped its ban, and an Irish LGBTQ contingent, The Lavender and Green Alliance, will march with its own banner in the parade next March 17th.

Considered a victory for the grassroots organizing, civil disobedience, and street protest of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization and its successor, Irish Queers. Protests held the line year after year.

Irish Queers said in a statement, “the parade issue has never just been about LGBTQ people. Irish people’s struggles are part of our identity: challenges to religious bigotry, demands for women’s rights, Irish republicanism, and struggles against racism in New York and Ireland are irreducible parts of the Irish experience. Irish queers have often been at the forefront of those struggles. We are proud of the complexity of our lives and histories.

Our thanks: we’re thankful to the many ordinary New Yorkers who supported us over the last 25 years, as well as the many elected official who refused to march in the parade while we were left out. We’re thankful for David Dinkins and others who made real, tangible tries at giving Irish queer people their rightful place in the parade. And we’re grateful to and proud of the original members of the Irish Lesbian and Gay Organization – who were also part of ACT UP, the Lesbian Avengers, and other important queer activist forces – who laid the groundwork for this victory.

We look forward to marching up Fifth Avenue with our community.”