MONTGOMERY-- Today, HRC Alabama strongly condemned the passage of House Bill 56 in the Alabama state house, pointing direct blame for the legislation’s passage on anti-equality Chief Justice Roy Moore. H.B.56 would allow probate judges and public officials to cite a religious reason for denying marriage licenses, putting interfaith couples, interracial couples, same-sex couples and unions where one partner is a divorcee at risk.
The potential passage of this bill and the legally dubious ways in which Moore has fought marriage equality harken back to an era not all that long ago, when Alabama was thought to be an obstructionist actor on issues of social justice. Coming less than a week after the 50th anniversary of Selma, the passage of this bill -- and the efforts to stall marriage equality -- will bring further shame to Alabama’s civil rights record.
"Who's in charge here? Is Governor Robert Bentley or Justice Moore running the state? Governor Bentley says that he wants to move the state forward, yet today Justice Moore and his allies in the state house took the state back decades,” said HRC Alabama State Director R. Ashley Jackson. “For today at least, it looks like Justice Moore is ruling the roost with his roughshod brand of discrimination."
“Alabama started this week celebrating an end to racial discrimination and ended the week voting for discrimination,” said State Representative Patricia Todd, the state’s only openly gay legislator.
The bill would also allow a religiously-affiliated hospital or other institution to refuse to recognize marriages it disagrees with. This would empower a religious hospital to refuse to allow a legally-married spouse to make medical decisions for their incapacitated partner—or allow a religiously-affiliated university to refuse to provide appropriate tax documents to an employee who has divorced or remarried.
HRC Alabama commends those lawmakers, particularly Representative Patricia Todd and members of the body's Black Caucus, who took a bold, courageous stand for equality-- and engaged in a multi-hour filibuster attempt. HRC Alabama is activating its members across the state to contact their elected officials in opposition to the bill.
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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