by Will Kohler
Paul Hard of Montgomery Alabama whose partner was killed in a car accident has filed a federal lawsuit challenging Alabama laws that bar the recognition of his marriage, which took place in Massachusetts.
The lawsuit, filed in Montgomery federal court, seeks to force Alabama to recognize same-sex marriages performed in states that allow them. Lawyers said the bans are unconstitutional and treat Alabama gays and lesbians as second-class citizens.
“The sanctity laws silence and demean lesbian and gay Alabamians by sending a clear message: You are less than other citizens and your relationships mean nothing here,” said Samuel E. Wolfe, a lawyer with the Southern Poverty Law Center, which is representing the plaintiff.
Notice of the lawsuit has been delivered to Alabama’s governor and attorney general.
Hard says he was treated cruelly after the death of his husband, David Fancher and was virtually ignored at the Alabama hospital where Fancher was taken after the accident.
Hard said he is also fighting to be considered as the surviving spouse in ongoing litigation over Fancher’s death.
Fancher, died within moments of the crash, but Hard said hospital staff refused to give him any information about his condition because the two weren’t considered legally related. An orderly later passed on the news that Fancher had died, Hard said. And even though Paul hard begged with the hospital the pain was compounded when the death certificate listed Fancher as never married and refused to change it.
“If I can let people know how this law unjustly and cruelly affects people, I will do it. Ultimately, I hope these laws are overturned so it no longer gives folks permission to treat Americans as second-class citizens,” Hard said.
That vote proved that the state’s residents believe “marriage in our state exists only between a man and a woman,” said Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard in a statement criticizing the lawsuit.”This lawsuit is part of a coordinated liberal agenda that is designed to erode the conservative Alabama values that the citizens of our state hold close to their hearts,” Hubbard said.
Couples in Louisiana and Missouri filed similar challenges this week.
Southern Poverty Law Center David Dinielli said the lawsuit relies on the precedent set by the case that overturned the federal Defense of Marriage Act. He said he hopes the case will continue a trend of federal judges finding the state bans unconstitutional.
Like recent challenges in other states, the lawsuit asserts that the Alabama laws violate the Equal Protection Clause of the U.S. Constitution by treating gays and lesbians differently than heterosexual couples.