Judge Strikes Down Alabama's Gay Marriage Ban

A federal judge ruled Friday that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.

The judge, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, ruled that Alabama's constitutional amendment banning gay marriage, known as the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, violates the 14th Amendment's due process and equal protection clauses.

"If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children," Granade writes. "Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the State as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples."

The suit was brought against the state by two women, Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, who traveled out of state to get married in order to become the legal parents of their son.

"I am a parent in every way to our son, but legally I am still considered a stranger," Searcy told the Associated Press in May. "We just want our son to have the same protections and securities as other Alabama families."

"There has been no evidence presented that these marriage laws have any effect on the choices of couples to have or raise children, whether they are same-sex couples or opposite-sex couples," Granade wrote in Friday's ruling. "In sum, the laws in question are an irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama."

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange filed a motion Friday evening asking the judge to stay the decision until the U.S. Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court makes a ruling, the Associated Press reported. Both the appellate court and the U.S. Supreme Court denied a stay pending appeal in the case of Florida, which legalized same-sex marriages earlier in January.

Read Granade's full ruling below:

This is a developing story and has been updated.

Walter Michot-Pool/The Miami Herald/Getty Images
The same-sex couples who legally challenged Florida's marriage ban were present in court as a stay was lifted Monday. From left to right, Cathy Pareto and Karla Arguello, Jeff Delmay and Todd Delmay, David Price, Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz react as Florida joined 36 other states in allowing same-sex couples to marry. “I’m lifting the stay," announced Circuit Judge Sarah Zabel.
Pareto and Arguello leave the courthouse to apply for a marriage license after the stay was lifted for Miami-Dade hours ahead of a midnight launch for same-sex marriage statewide.
Pareto gets a hug from her mother, Marlene, as she waits to apply for a marriage license.
Arguello places a ring on Pareto's finger as her mother, Berta Arguello, looks on holding flowers. The pair, who were wed by Judge Zabel, have been partners for 15 years. "It's been a long time coming," Pareto told the Associated Press. "Finally Florida recognizes us as a couple. It's just, I don't know, sweet justice."
Pareto and Arguello share a kiss.
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Don Johnston and Jorge Diaz kiss after obtaining their marriage license from the Miami-Dade Clerk of Courts Monday.
Vanessa Alenier holds up her number after waiting in line to apply for a marriage license with her partner, Malanie Alenier. The couple were among the six plaintiffs that sued Miami-Dade County for the right to marry.
Jeff and Todd Delmay leave the courthouse after Judge Zabel lifted the stay. She then married the couple, who had already legally changed their names, are raising a son together and have been wearing wedding rings on their right hands for 12 years. “We have been reserving [our left ring fingers] for when it became official,” Todd Delmay told the Miami Herald. “This means so much to us.”
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The Delmays hold hands as they wait to receive their marriage license from the clerk of courts.
Monday's lifting of the stay “lets families like ours be families,” Todd Delmay told CBSMiami.
Couples including Juan Talavera, 46 (left, in blue), and his partner of 15 years, Jeff Ronci, 53, waited Monday to obtain marriage licenses.
Joe Raedle via Getty Images
It was soon mission accomplished for Ronci and Talavera. At least two other counties in Florida will hold extended office hours to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses at 12:01 a.m. Tuesday.
Deborah Shure and Aymarah Robles also applied for a marriage license in Miami.
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