MONTGOMERY, Ala. — A federal judge nominated to the bench by then-President George W. Bush has declared Alabama’s marriage amendment unconstitutional, thus paving the way for two lesbian women to obtain legal recognition as the parents of a nine-year-old boy.
As previously reported, Kimberly McKeand and Cari Searcy have been in a relationship for 15 years, and traveled to California to “wed” in 2008 after winning a contest held by the San Diego Convention and Visitor’s Bureau.
In 2005, McKeand conceived via a sperm donor and gave birth to a baby boy that she named Khaya. However, neither the hospital nor the state would recognize Searcy as the parent because of Alabama’s constitutional marriage amendment, also known as the “Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.”
“Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman,” it reads in part. “As a matter of public policy, this state has a special interest in encouraging, supporting, and protecting this unique relationship in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and its children. A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state.”
The amendment was passed in 2006 with 81 percent approval from voters.
According to AL.com, Searcy filed paperwork with the Mobile County Probate Court in 2011 in an effort to legally adopt the child. She was denied due to the state’s ban on same-sex “marriage,” and the Alabama Civil Court of Appeals upheld the decision.
McKeand and Searcy then sued Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange and Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis—among others—in an attempt to overturn the law. On Friday, U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade, nominated to the bench in 2001 by then-President George W. Bush, struck down Alabama’s Sanctity of Marriage Amendment as unconstitutional.
“Careful review of the parties’ briefs and the substantial case law on the subject persuades the court that the institution of marriage itself is a fundamental right protected by the Constitution, and that the state must therefore convince the court that its laws restricting the fundamental right to marry serve a compelling state interest,” she wrote.
“If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children,” Granade continued. “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.”
But while homosexual advocacy groups cheered the decision, officials in Alabama vowed to fight the ruling.
“It is outrageous when a single unelected and unaccountable federal judge can overturn the will of millions of Alabamians who stand in firm support of the Sanctity of Marriage Act,” House Speaker Mike Hubbard (R-Auburn) said in a statement. “The legislature will encourage a vigorous appeals process, and we will continue defending the Christian conservative values that make Alabama a special place to live.”
Attorney General Luther Strange immediately requested a stay of the ruling since the U.S. Supreme Court plans to take up the matter this year.