Alabama same-sex marriages legal: Christian radio host Rick Burgess, 'It's time to fight'

by Will Hall |

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (Christian Examiner) – "If you are a probate judge in my state and you claim to follow Christ. Make a stand and refuse to sign same sex marriage licenses," tweeted Rick Burgess of "Rick and Bubba" fame.

The conservative radio entertainer and commentator shared his views prior to the expiration of a federal court stay on Feb. 9 which was a temporary delay in legalizing same-sex marriages in Alabama.

Burgess told AL.com he thinks Christian judges are "in a 'Daniel' moment from the Bible.

"Daniel followed the law of the land until it asked him to go against God and the Bible tells us that Daniel had resolved in his heart that he would not worship the king, even though it was the law," he said. "If you are a Christian and a probate judge do you condone a version of marriage that goes against God even though it's the current law of the land? Martin Luther King Jr. in his letter from a Birmingham jail covered this when explaining to fellow pastors why he would continue to break 'unjust' laws."

He added that Christians had an equal right to raise their families in a society reflecting their convictions.

"It's time to fight," he said.

Probate judges in at least 16 counties plan to do just that. There are 68 probate judges in Alabama. According to an Associated Press account these judges will not perform same-sex ceremonies, although they will issue license to homosexual couples.

Geneva Country Probate Judge Fred Hamic said he "was raised in a Christian home, and I was taught that [homosexuality] is a sin."

Others more strongly worded their intentions.

Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen called same-sex marriage "repugnant and repulsive to God" in an editorial published in January.

"In other words, I believe Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for just such unnatural conduct between the same sexes," Enslen wrote. He said he will issue licenses but will no longer perform any marriages.

A few said they were eager to perform same-sex weddings.

Ellin Jimmerson, minister to the community at Huntsville's Weatherly Heights Baptist Church, wrote on Facebook that she had been invited to perform a same-sex wedding today and offered her views to other ministers about the biblical notion of marriage, saying most people today "would not be comfortable with the kinds of marriages" represented in the Bible.

"[W]e would not be comfortable with the biblical model that is one man, one woman, one concubine," she asserted. "Nor would we be comfortable with the idea of a widow being compelled to marry her brother-in-law."

"There is very little in the Bible which reflects the modern idea of one man and one woman united by love," she contends.

Lowndes County Probate Judge John Hulett told AL.com he would go against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore's order to judges not to issue licenses to same-sex couples, saying Moore does not run the probate office.

AL.com reported Hulett informed other counties who were refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples "'send them to me.'" As for any religious concerns, Judge Hulett said he would let God sort out the "wheat and the chaff."

Moore in his guidance issued to judges Sunday night ahead of the expiration of the 14-day stay in Alabama, cited the Alabama Constitution as appointing him, as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, the administrative head of the state judicial system, and he quoted Alabama law authorizing him to "take affirmative and appropriate action to correct or alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the state."

He then ordered "no Probate Judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent" with the Alabama Constitution of state law.

U.S. Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas also weighed in on the issue, expressing disappointment in that top court's failure to order a stay in Alabama until the overall matter of same-sex marriage was heard by its nine justices later this year.

In a dissenting opinion (to the court's decision not to hear Alabama's appeal), joined by Justice Antonin Scalia, Thomas upbraided his colleagues for looking "the other way as yet another federal district judge casts aside state laws."

He added their "acquiescence may well be seen as a signal of the court's intended resolution of that question."

In January, the U.S. Supreme Court accepted cases from Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee after the U.S. Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld voter-approved initiatives upholding traditional marriage -- between one man and one woman -- in those states. Oral arguments will be heard in April and a decision issued by June on two questions: whether the U.S. Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and whether states must recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.

With the inaction by the U.S. Supreme Court, same-sex marriage is legal now in 37 states plus the nation's capital, largely because of judicial activism:

-- 26 including Alabama, have had voter-approved amendments overturned by courts.

-- 13 still only allow marriage between one man and one woman. But among these, seven (Arkansas, Kentucky, Michigan, Misssissippi, Missouri, South Dakota and Texas) have had a judge overturn the ballot measures and appeals are in progress.

-- 8 state legislatures passed laws making same-sex marriages legal (Delaware, Hawaii, Illinois, Minnesota, New Hampshire, New York, Rhode Island and Vermont).

-- Voters in Maine, Maryland and Washington approved measures to legalize gay unions, as did the electorate in the District of Columbia.

Court partisanship has been evident in the multiple federal court rulings that overturned voter approved amendments to define marriage in traditional terms, as well as in the Sixth Circuit decision to uphold traditional marriage in Tennessee, Kentucky, Michigan and Ohio.

This trend of dramatic judicial support for homosexual marriage coincides with changes President Obama has been able to effect in the makeup of the courts.

The New York Times reported Sept. 13, 2014, that for the first time in a decade "judges appointed by Democratic presidents considerably outnumber judges appointed by Republican presidents" and that Democratic appointees who hear full cases "now hold a majority of seats on nine of the 13 United States Courts of Appeals."

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