An Alabama gay man has filed a federal
lawsuit to force Alabama officials to recognize his out-of-state
marriage to another man.
Paul Hard married his husband Charles
David Fancher in 2011 in Massachusetts, which became the first state
to allow gay couples to marry in 2004.
Roughly 3 months after marrying,
Fancher was killed in a car crash north of Montgomery, which led to a
wrongful death case.
At a news conference Thursday to
announcement the lawsuit, Hard said that hospital workers refused to
acknowledge his marriage. He learned that his husband had died from
a hospital orderly after about a half-hour of inquiries.
Fancher's death certificate lists him
“If I can spare one other person that
kind of indignity and hurt, I would do it,” Hard said. “If I can
let people know how this law unjustly and cruelly affects people, I
will do it. And ultimately, I hope that these laws are overturned so
that it no longer can give folks permission to treat Americans as
The lawsuit, filed in U.S. District
Court for the Middle District of Alabama, seeks to overturn the
state's 2005 voter-approved constitutional amendment which outlaws
same-sex marriages from being performed or recognized in Alabama.
The lawsuit also demands that Alabama
officials issue a corrected death certificate for Fancher that lists
Hard as the surviving spouse.
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC)
is representing Hard in the lawsuit.
“Alabama has created two classes of
marriages within its borders and deemed one of those classes –
marriages between people of the same sex – to be inferior to the
other,” David C. Dinielli, deputy legal director for the SPLC, said
in a statement. “This is unconstitutional.”
The SPLC also contends that Hard is
entitled to proceeds from the wrongful death case.
“The only purpose of refusing Paul
the right to share in the proceeds from the wrongful death lawsuit is
to punish him for having married a man, and to express moral
disapproval of this choice,” Dinielli said.
Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard, a
the lawsuit, calling it “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.”