Column: Ending Alabama’s resistance to gay marriage
Chief Justice Roy Moore is overlooking all of the benefits that same-sex marriage can have on the state of Alabama.
Feb. 18, 2015
The opinions expressed by The Maneater columnists do not represent the opinions of The Maneater editorial board.
Last Thursday, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court announced that he would continue to resist the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state.
His statements came after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled that judges in Alabama could no longer deny same-sex marriage licenses. Moore insisted that lower court judges should not implement the federal court ruling that overturned the state’s ban. He claimed Alabama was not bound by Granade’s decision and the federal government was overreaching its powers by threatening state sovereignty. Moore stated, “What you’re confusing is law with the opinion of a justice. What one lone federal judge says is not law.”
Nevertheless, at least 50 out of the 67 counties in Alabama decided to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Why Moore still insists on banning same-sex marriage even when the federal courts became involved is a mystery. He is creating far more of an uproar than is required concerning this matter. Even the Republican candidates for 2016 are reluctant to comment on the events in Alabama. Moore’s arguments are weak and based on personal opinion, which doesn’t cut it in the federal court system, where objectivity is key. There are many benefits of allowing same-sex couples to marry that Moore is overlooking, as well as many downsides to continued opposition.
Moore is hurting his own state’s economic well-being by steadfastly denying the rights of same-sex couples. By allowing this disagreement to persist, he is spending state funds to hold numerous court hearings and pay for lawyers that could have otherwise been avoided. Furthermore, allowing same-sex couples the right to marry would strengthen the U.S. government in the long run. Last year, the Williams Institute looked at 11 state economies, and estimated that they could make upwards of $464 million during the first year of allowing same-sex couples to marry. They also estimated that close to 90,000 couples would marry in the first three years, which would garner a $723.5 million revenue for state economies.
On a civil rights standpoint, Moore is suppressing the individual rights of citizens in his state. He is not doing his job, which should be enacting fair and equal laws for the good of everyone. It is not right for the chief justice to deny basic human rights to a whole subset of the population just because of his personal beliefs. Same-sex couples are deprived of more than 1,000 federal rights and benefits that come with marriage, and they can lose as much as $5,000 in a lifetime because they are not allowed to marry. This cannot continue. Moore needs to realize that he is obligated, by his job, to bring fair treatment to those who do not have it.
Moore is making a terrible mistake in continuing to deny same-sex marriage. Economically and morally, Alabama will suffer from his ruling. The judiciary system is no place for personal beliefs that hurt a part of the population, yet Moore is refusing to acknowledge this fact. It is imperative that the rest of Alabama recognizes the need for justice even if their state Supreme Court refuses to serve it.