Alabama same-sex marriages will have to wait as judge stays ruling

Cari Searcy, left, and Kim McKeand pose in 2006 for a portrait with son Khaya in Mobile, Ala.
Cari Searcy, left, and Kim McKeand pose in 2006 for a portrait with son Khaya in Mobile, Ala.
(Rob Carr / Associated Press)

Two days after striking down Alabama laws that ban same-sex marriage, a federal judge temporarily stayed her ruling Sunday, giving the state time to file an appeal.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade’s Friday ruling initially went into effect immediately. Then Alabama Atty. Gen. Luther Strange requested that it not be enforced until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on similar cases.

Granade chose the middle ground, issuing a 14-day stay so the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals can decide whether waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court is appropriate. If the appeals court does not take action, the stay will expire Feb. 9, making same-sex marriage legal in Alabama.

The judge did not grant Strange’s request for an indefinite stay, she wrote Sunday, because he had not shown that he is likely to succeed on appeal. The attorney general also had not shown that he, the plaintiffs or other same-sex couples would suffer irreparable harm if the ruling were not stayed, or that the public interest would be harmed by a stay, the judge wrote.

In her Friday ruling, Granade 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 had tried to adopt McKeand’s 8-year-old son but was denied on the grounds that the state of Alabama did not recognize her as McKeand’s spouse.

It was not immediately clear Sunday night if any same-sex marriage licenses had been issued in Alabama while the judge’s Friday ruling was in effect.

It is now legal for same-sex couples to marry in more than 30 states and the District of Columbia.

Times staff writer Christine Mai-Duc contributed to this report.

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