Minister ready to marry same-sex couples amid legal battle

Minister ready to marry same-sex couples amid legal battle

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - A ruling made by a federal judge Sunday will delay the issuing of marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.

Friday's ruling, which deems the State of Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages unconstitutional was frozen by the same judge Sunday, giving Attorney General Luther Strange, the defendant named in the case, time to file an appeal.

Gay and lesbian couples were preparing to show up at probate judges' offices Monday, seeking marriage licenses.

In Madison County, LGBT activist Felicia Fontaine is also a minister, and she is looking at the possibility of performing same-sex marriages as early as Monday, Feb. 9 - the date Sunday's stay is set to be lifted, in the event no action is taken by the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

"We're trying to get people into as many county probate offices as possible," she said.

Fontaine and her partner were married in Vermont in 2000. For her, she said the fight between the states on same-sex marriage is about benefits. She said she doesn't get the benefits of the tax breaks Alabama gives to married couples, but said the federal government does recognize her marriage.

"I'm now fully insured under her healthcare," Fontaine said, "and actually have dental and vision coverage, which I could never get otherwise."

Read a 2004 profile on Fontaine and her partner.

Whether or not gay and lesbian couples will be able to marry in Alabama remains unclear, but Fontaine recognizes the real battle will be that of hearts and minds.

"Having a right you can't exercise freely and without fear... you don't have that right yet," she said.

Fontaine said she is in contact with a couple planning to wed in Madison County who plans to have a ceremony whether they are issued a marriage certificate or not.

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