Search form

Scroll To Top
News & Opinion

Speaking Out Against Alabama's Deceptive Marriage Politics

Speaking Out Against Alabama's Deceptive Marriage Politics

Alabama Lead

With same-sex marriages now forbidden in their state, one of the first gay couples to be married in Alabama share their disappointment — and hope.

Collage: Image by Andrea Morales for the New York Times & David Roby

Just the other day, it was legal for same-sex couples to get married in the state of Alabama. That all changed yesterday, however, when the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt on issuing same-sex marriage licenses.

"As it has done for approximately two centuries," the court said, "Alabama law allows for 'marriage' between only one man and one woman." Alabama judges are forbidden "to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty."

The fight for marriage equality in the Deep South had taken a surprising and unprecedented step forward, but has now painfully regressed. This is one of the most disappointing rebuttals of same-sex marriage to date.

David Roby is particularly disappointed. Last month he was one of the first gay couples to marry in Alabama, having tied the knot with his partner of three years, Erik Obermiller, at the Jefferson County Courthouse in Birmingham, Ala. Now Roby is in the precarious position of living in a state in which he was legally married, but now feels his vows are threatened.

"Once again, Alabama attempts to prove and protect its conservatism," Roby says. "But denying a whole group of people their civil rights is nothing short of a legalized hate crime -- especially when love is at the center of the debate."

Alabama's reactionary conservatism, however, was not present when Roby and Obermiller were married at the courthouse in February. Roby even noted that supporters easily outnumbered the protesters, and that the crowd grew after the marriage licenses were signed.

"When we came out of the back of the courthouse," Roby explains, "the group of supporters were even larger. But the really funny thing was the protesters had lost their voices. I found it rather ironic, and it showed how individuals can only speak so loudly, but as a group, we had a stronger presence and more of a voice. I thought that was justice."

Though Roby and Obermiller will thankfully remain legally and happily married, the current situation in Alabama is embedded with discomfort and inequality. Roby is grateful he can call Obermiller his husband, but he sees our country's fight for marriage equality far from fulfilled, especially now.

"For a gay couple to live in a state where same-sex marriage is illegal only creates and perpetuates more pain," he says. "Then they ask, 'Why can't we get married? Why aren't we recognized in our state?' I think when that happens people live with an epic amount of shame. Who wants anybody to live with shame? I don't wish that on anybody. Even if someone disagrees with me, I don't want them to live with shame."

It is disappointing to think that Alabama, with its recent bout of short-lived progressiveness, is now shaming so many individuals and couples who reside there.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to issue a ruling in June deciding whether states can ban same-sex marriage. The result will provide clarity on the issue in Alabama, as well as in the 13 other states where marriage equality remains non-existent.

"We both felt like we were part of history," Roby says. "And we still do."

30 Years of Out100Out / Advocate Magazine - Jonathan Groff and Wayne Brady

From our Sponsors

Most Popular

Latest Stories

Jesse Steinbach