On December 16, 2013, a man whose same-sex spouse (married in the state of Massachusetts) died in an automobile accident in 2011 and who wished to be recognized as the surviving spouse, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama under 28 U.S.C. § 2201-2202 ...
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On December 16, 2013, a man whose same-sex spouse (married in the state of Massachusetts) died in an automobile accident in 2011 and who wished to be recognized as the surviving spouse, filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama under 28 U.S.C. § 2201-2202 against the state of Alabama. The plaintiff, represented by attorneys from the Southern Poverty Law Center, asked the court to declare that Alabama's laws banning same-sex marriage are unconstitutional and allow the plaintiff to be recognized as the surviving spouse in any lawsuits surrounding the death of his husband. The plaintiff also requested that the court issue an injunction stating that Alabama must recognize same-sex marriages formalized in other jurisdictions and issue an injunction that requires the plaintiff's husband's death certificate be changed to indicate that he was married at the time of death.
The Alabama Marriage Protection Act states that it will not recognize "any marriage of parties of the same sex that occurred or was alleged to have occurred as a result of the law of any jurisdiction." Similar language also later became part of the state's constitution when Alabama voters passed the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. The plaintiff claimed that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage discriminated against same-sex couples for no rational reason and violated the plaintiff's rights under the Equal Protection and Due Process Clauses of the United States Constitution.
On January 23, 2015, in Searcy v. Bentley (PB-AL-0005
in this Clearinghouse), the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Alabama (Judge Callie V. S. Granade) ruled that Alabama's same sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. In accordance with the ruling, the Alabama Center for Health Statistics issued the plaintiff an amended death certificate recognizing him as a surviving spouse. The decedent's mother filed a motion to intervene seeking to block distribution of settlement funds from a wrongful death lawsuit. On February 24, 2015, the District Court (Judge William Keith Watkins) granted the motion to intervene.
On March 10, 2015, the District Court (Judge Watkins) granted the governor's motion to dismiss only the count against him for lack of subject matter jurisdiction and also stayed further proceedings pending the U.S. Supreme Court's decision in Obergefell v. Hodges (PB-OH-0003
in this Clearinghouse). Megan Dolan - 07/15/2014
Thomas Topping - 03/22/2015