A federal judge struck down two Alabama laws banning same-sex marriage Friday, making it one of dozens of states where it is now legal for gays and lesbians to marry.
In a 10-page decision, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade for the Southern District of Alabama said that an amendment to the state's constitution banning the recognition of gay marriage, and another law prohibiting same-sex marriage licenses from being issued, violated the due process and equal protection clauses of the 14th Amendment.
The Alabama case was brought by Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, a lesbian couple who married in California. Searcy attempted to adopt McKeand's 8-year-old son, but was denied on the grounds that the state of Alabama did not recognize her as as McKeand's spouse.
Calling marriage a "fundamental right protected by the Constitution," Granade said the laws were an "irrational way of promoting biological relationships in Alabama."
"If anything," Granade wrote, "Alabama's prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children."
Alabama is the second state to see such a ban overturned this month. On Jan. 12, a federal judge stuck down South Dakota's voter-approved ban on gay marriage. And Friday's ruling comes a week after the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to hear same-sex marriage cases from four states.
Alabama's attorney general is expected to request a stay of the judge's ruling, pending the Supreme Court's decision.
"We are disappointed and are reviewing the federal district court's decision," said Mike Lewis, a spokesman for Alabama Atty. Gen. Luther Strange.
It is now legal for same-sex couples to marry in more than 30 states and the District of Columbia.