ACLU responds to AL chief justice's entry into gay marriage deba - WAFF-TV: News, Weather and Sports for Huntsville, AL

ACLU responds to AL chief justice's entry into gay marriage debate

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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again making national headlines. He was in the spotlight when he fought to have the Ten Commandments monument displayed in the state judicial building and now he's pushing for a constitutional amendment banning gay marriage.

[DOCUMENT: Moore marriage amendment letter to governors (.pdf)]

"The moral foundation of our Country is under attack"- that is how Moore started his letter. He urges the governors to get their legislatures to call for a convention to add an amendment to the U.S. Constitution recognizing only the union of a man and woman.  

In the documents, he stated:"The time to act is upon us if we mean to preserve the basic foundations of marriage and family upon which our Country rests."

Moore attended an event outside of Mobile Thursday night and reacted to the buzz surrounding his letters, saying: "We're not fighting a losing battle. We're retaining the morality of our country. This is a new change they're trying push on our country so this is the way people can respond to it."

Moore says judges are finding new rights for gay unions which he calls "dangerous."

In the past, U.S. legislators have introduced federal marriage amendments, but Moore said he doesn't think Congress will offer one this year. 

He thinks it's time for an Article V convention, which hasn't been held since the nation's founding. First, 34 states must agree that a convention is necessary. Then once an Article V Convention has proposed amendments, each of those amendments would have to be ratified by three-fourths of the states in order to become part of the Constitution. Seventeen states and the District of Columbia allow gay marriage.

"I think this is the only way. I think this is the last way we've got in this country. We've seen judges take away the rights of the people, take away the rights of the states, wrongfully and against the Constitution," Moore said Thursday. "We sent resolutions to all 50 governors so we're expecting a good response."

While Alabama's nine high court justices don't typically get involved in national issues, Moore said it is appropriate for him to speak out on this topic since Alabama has a state constitutional amendment that recognizes marriage as a union only between a man and woman. 

Michael Hansen with Equality Alabama, a statewide non-profit civil rights organization that advocates for the rights of LGBTQ people in Alabama, says the odds are already against Moore.

"I don't think he has any hope. The math is not on their side with 17 state directly supporting same sex marriage and others on the cusp of doing the same. I don't think it's a setback for the movement towards equality but I do think it does reinforce the stereotype that Alabama is stuck in the past," Hansen said. "The foundation of our nation is strengthened when we allow more people the freedom to marry and protect their families and their kids."

State lawmakers also reacted to Moore's move.

"I think this is one of the issues facing the country today and I think it's good to put it out there and let the public talk about it and see where it goes," said Senator Scott Beason. 

Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said in response to Moore's letters:

"Chief Justice Roy Moore said that government has become oppressive and this is yet another perfect example of his contributions to the matter. His definition of marriage as one man-one woman is a religious one. We support everyone's rights to have their own religious beliefs, but he is chronically imposing his beliefs on others... Times are changing and he needs to get with it. People here think that marriage equality in Alabama will never happen. But I think it will."

Governor Robert Bentley told the Associated Press that while he doesn't have a problem with what the Chief Justice is proposing, saying marriage licenses are issued by the state and he feels the issue of gay marriage should be left "to the people of each state."

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