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Searcy v. Strange

United States District Court, S.D. Alabama, Southern Division

January 23, 2015

CARI D. SEARCY and KIMBERLY MCKEAND, individually and as parent and next friend of K.S., a minor, Plaintiffs,
v.
LUTHER STRANGE, in his capacity as Attorney General for the State of Alabama, Defendant

For Cari D. Searcy, individually and as parent and next friend of K.S., a minor, LEAD ATTORNEY, Plaintiffs: Christine Cassie Hernandez, David Graham Kennedy, LEAD ATTORNEYS, Mobile, AL.

For Luther Strange, in his capacity as the Attorney General of the State of Alabama, Defendant: James W. Davis, LEAD ATTORNEY, Office of the Attorney General, Montgomery, AL; Laura Elizabeth Howell, Montgomery, AL.

Page 1286

MEMORANDUM OPINION AND ORDER

Callie V. S. Granade, UNITED STATES DISTRICT JUDGE.

This case challenges the constitutionality of the State of Alabama's " Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" and the " Alabama Marriage Protection Act." It is before the Court on cross motions for summary judgment (Docs. 21, 22, 47 & 48). For the reasons explained below, the Court finds the challenged laws to be unconstitutional on Equal Protection and Due Process Grounds.

I. Facts

This case is brought by a same-sex couple, Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, who were legally married in California under that state's laws. The Plaintiffs want Searcy to be able to adopt McKeand's 8-year-old biological son, K.S., under a provision of Alabama's adoption code that allows a person to adopt her " spouse's child." Ala. Code § 26-10A-27. Searcy filed a petition in the Probate Court of Mobile County seeking to adopt K.S. on December 29, 2011, but that petition was denied based on the " Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment" and the " Alabama Marriage Protection Act." (Doc. 22-6). The Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment to the Alabama Constitution provides the following:

(a) This amendment shall be known and may be cited as the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.
(b) Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman. As a matter of public policy, this state has a special interest in encouraging, supporting, and protecting this unique relationship in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and its children. A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state.
(c) Marriage is a sacred covenant, solemnized between a man and a woman, which, when the legal capacity and consent of both parties is present, establishes their relationship as husband and wife, and which is recognized by the state as a civil contract.
(d) No marriage license shall be issued in the State of Alabama to parties of the same sex.
(e) The State of Alabama shall not recognize as valid 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 regardless of whether a marriage license was issued.
(f) The State of Alabama shall not recognize as valid any common law marriage of parties of the same sex.
(g) A union replicating marriage of or between persons of the same sex in the State of Alabama or ...

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