The National Center for Lesbian Rights
(NCLR) has agreed to represent a gay couple challenging Alabama's ban
on gay marriage.
James Strawser, 51, and John Humphrey,
38, were denied a marriage license in Mobile County, Alabama. The
men said that they filed the federal lawsuit after Humphrey was told
by hospital staff that they would not allow him to make decisions on
behalf of Strawser, who faces significant health issues, despite
having a medical power of attorney because he is not a family member
or a spouse.
On Monday, U.S. District Judge Callie
“Ginny” Granade ruled in the couple's favor, declaring Alabama's
ban unconstitutional, just days after she had ruled similarly in a
separate case. Both rulings are expected to take effect on Monday,
The couple told media outlets earlier
this week that they could not afford an attorney.
In a motion filed Friday on behalf of
the couple, NCLR attorneys asked the Eleventh Circuit Court of
Appeals in Atlanta to deny the state's request to stay the ruling
until the Supreme Court rules in cases challenging bans in Ohio,
Michigan, Kentucky and Tennessee.
NCLR lawyers noted in their filing that
the Supreme Court “has denied stays in every case in which a lower
court has struck down a state marriage ban” since October 6, the
day the high court refused to hear cases challenging bans in five
A stay is “unwarranted in light of
recent decisions by the Supreme Court of the United States to deny
stays pending appeal in similar cases, including a case from Florida
in which this Court previously denied a stay,” NCLR lawyers argued.
“We are honored to represent Jim and
John as they continue their fight to obtain the same family
protections that other Alabama couples enjoy,” Christopher F.
Stoll, NCLR senior staff attorney, said in a statement. “They have
done a remarkable job standing up for their rights on their own, and
we look forward to helping them make the strongest possible case on
appeal. We hope the Eleventh Circuit will agree there is no legal
basis to delay allowing Alabama couples access to the respect and
protections of civil marriage, and that on February 9, Alabama will
join the 36 other states in which all couples have the freedom to
Birmingham attorney Heather Fann is
also representing the couple.