As Louisiana advocates for same-sex marriage await a ruling from the U.S. 5th Circuit Court of Appeals on the state's constitutional ban on gay marriage, they're closely watching decisions in other southern states.
U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. "Ginny" Granade of Mobile, Alabama, declared Alabama's ban (the Alabama Marriage Protection Act) unconstitutional on Jan. 23. Not only was the ruling one of the first in several pending same-sex marriage cases in the state, it's only the second in the Deep South to overturn state bans (in January, Florida became the first.)
Granade's decision faced pushback from state officials last week when Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley with his intent to "continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment." Unless a stay is extended in that case, however, same-sex couples in Alabama could marry as early as Feb. 9.
In a statement, Evan Wolfson, president of the Freedom To Marry campaign, said when those couples begin to marry, "their neighbors across Alabama will see that families are helped and no one is hurt."
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide whether same-sex marriage is constitutional after hearing oral arguments in April and a ruling as early as June. It could be the final word on same-sex marriage legality nationwide. Granade's decision made Alabama the 37th state, plus the District of Columbia, where same-sex marriages are legal.