The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, Roy Moore, is once again trying to ban marriages for gays and lesbians in his state, handing down an order directing probate judges to stop issuing licenses. But Moore is offering convoluted legal reasoning to mask his true belief: That only his God can decide who gets married.
Moore blocked gay marriages before, claiming his state had sovereignty, but eventually backed off after legal challenges. Now he's come up with a new legal argument: That the Obergefell decision only applies to the marriage bans challenged in the states in that case, which reached the high court: Tennessee, Michigan, Kentucky and Ohio. Thus, he claims, it's yet to be seen whether it applies in Alabama.
This would of course be equivalent to saying that Loving v. Virginia, the case that struck down bans on interracial marriages in 1967, only applied to Virginia, or Lawrence v. Texas, which struck down sodomy bans, only did so for Texas. We could in fact pick case after case in which the Supreme Court did not specify that the ruling only applied to the locality in question and say the same thing. In other words, Moore's argument is ludicrous.
And it's actually cowardly for Moore, who has proudly offered his true reasoning in the past: He doesn't believe the Supreme Court has the authority to hand down such decisions because the high court is subject to God's law, which he believes bans marriage for gays and lesbians.
As I wrote last February when Moore halted marriages then, he told me all of this in a couple of interviews in years past.
"Are laws themselves superseded by God?" I asked him in an interview on my radio program in 2011. "I think you're correct in saying that," he answered. "This is a Christian nation by the fact that 90% of the churches in America are Christian churches and it's certainly founded upon Christian principles. The supreme law of the land is the Constitution of the United States which recognizes many of those principles. Our freedom to believe what we want comes from God. When it comes from God, no man or no court, can take it away. That's a God-given right under the Declaration of Independence, which is law itself."
At the time, Moore had been mulling a presidential run and was giving a lot of interviews. He'd been chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court previously, from 2001 to 2003, and had been famously removed from the court by the Alabama Court of the Judiciary after he refused to follow a federal ruling -- which went up to the Supreme Court -- that he had to remove a Ten Commandments monument he'd placed in the courthouse rotunda. He spent the next few years staging a comeback, running for governor twice (and losing) and talking up the possible run for the presidency. He was eventually elected chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court once again in 2012.
In 2002, Moore wrote a 9-0 decision in which the Alabama Supreme Court gave custody of three teenagers to their heterosexual father rather than their lesbian mother after the parents divorced.
"Homosexuality," he wrote in the decision, is "an inherent evil, and if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent." Moore went on to say that homosexuality is "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature."
When I asked Moore where in the law or in the Constitution it stated such things, he said, "I quoted the law. The [British] common law designated homosexuality as an inherent evil. The Constitution is predicated on the [British] common law. I'm quoting the history of the [British] common law upon which our Constitution is based."
Moore said that even after the ruling by the Supreme Court in 2003 that struck down sodomy bans across the country, it wouldn't change his view or his decision on that lesbian custody case.
"What the court said is that you couldn't punish [sodomy] criminally," he said. "The court did not say that sodomy or homosexuality had any kind of public right."
It's interesting that he didn't say that the sodomy decision only applied to Texas, the state that was challenged in the case -- as he is saying now about Obergefell -- but instead claimed some other twisted reasoning. His legal arguments are a mish mash and inconsistent because they are cobbled together to fit his agenda at a given moment. They mask what is Moore's only truly consistent belief: That his God and his bible determine American law.