Alabama Governor Wrong on the Facts & On the Wrong Side of History

by HRC Staff

MONTGOMERY--Today, HRC Alabama strongly criticized the inaccurate, hurtful and harmful remarks of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, who called same-sex marriage a ‘social experiment’. In a brief to the United States Supreme Court opposing marriage equality nationwide, Bentley claims that same-sex marriage destroys the “rights of children to be connected to their biological parents.” The court is expected to hear arguments on April 28 with a decision by late June.

The Governor’s dangerous claims lack any factual basis:

• Marriage equality does in fact exist in the United States: 37 states, including Alabama and the District of Columbia have allowed same-sex couples to marry.

•  Decades of social science research has shown that the sexual orientation of a parent has no negative impact on children's health or well-being. In fact, studies consistently demonstrate that children of same-sex parents are thriving just as well as, and sometimes better than, those being raised by different-sex parents.

• The governor’s assertion that states continue to distinguish between straight and gay couples in marriage is not accurate. In fact, the vast majority of states that offer marriage equality – including Alabama – make no distinction. Marriage is simply marriage.

• Marriage equality is no “social experiment.”  Eleven years ago, Massachusetts adopted marriage equality. Opponents of civil rights and social justice issues have historically rolled out the tired old trope of calling change a “social experiment.” More than 60 years ago, integration of the U.S. armed forces was called a “social experiment” as well.

• Sexual orientation is no more a choice than the Governor himself “choosing” to be straight.

“The Governor’s assertions are a bald-face lie and if he doesn’t know better, he should. His inflammatory remarks may appeal to his political base, but they do nothing to further understanding of LGBT Alabamians. He is needlessly dividing instead of uniting,” said HRC Alabama State Director R. Ashley Jackson. “The facts clearly contradict Governor Bentley’s comments.”

Below is an excerpt written by Bentley to the United States Supreme Court:

“Marriage equality does not exist in the United States. It cannot be made to exist in law without destroying the rights of children to be connected to their biological parents. No State can afford to do that. Even those States that have extended legal recognition to same-sex couples continue to distinguish between marriage and same-sex “marriage.” The reason is plain: Marriage is a natural reality that States must distinguish from all other forms of human sociability, including same-sex relationships, for the purpose of securing the rights and well-being of children.

By contrast to marriage, same-sex “marriage” is a social experiment, a recent product of positive law. Its purpose is to affirm the sexual desires and choices of adults. This experiment threatens to obscure the natural rights and duties of marriage and parentage by communicating the message that only bigots think that children should be connected to both their father and their mother. And it imposes other costs on States and their citizens, especially the loss of religious liberty and other freedoms to distinguish between marriage and non-marital relations.”

Despite U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade striking down Alabama’s unconstitutional ban on marriage in January, state leaders, including the Alabama Supreme Court, have repeatedly stood on the wrong side of history in their efforts to prevent marriage equality. The Governor’s statement is the latest effort by an anti-LGBT activist hoping to permanently halt same-sex marriage.

Earlier this month, HRC Alabama helped to deliver the organization’s historic “People’s Brief” – with 207,551 signatories calling for full nationwide marriage equality – to the U.S. Supreme Court. The People’s Brief has more signatories than any amicus brief ever submitted to the Supreme Court

HRC Alabama is working to advance equality for LGBT Alabamians who have no state or municipal level protections in housing, workplace, or public accommodations; legal state recognition for their relationships and families; and state protections from hate crimes. Through HRC Alabama, we are working toward a future of fairness every day—changing hearts, minds and laws toward achieving full equality.

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