A federal court on Wednesday denied an
Alabama mother's request to keep the state from recognizing her late
son's out-of-state marriage to another man.
Paul Hard and Charles David Fancher
married in 2011 in Massachusetts.
Roughly 3 months after the wedding,
Fancher was killed in a car crash north of Montgomery, which led to a
wrongful death lawsuit.
Alabama officials refused to recognize
the marriage. Fancher's death certificate lists him as unmarried.
Hard sued the state, asking a federal
judge to force Alabama officials to issue a corrected death
certificate for Fancher that lists him as the surviving spouse.
Pat Fancher, Charles Fancher's mother,
intervened in the case and asked the court not to recognize her son's
marriage. The Christian conservative group Foundation for Moral Law
– which is headed by Kayla Moore, wife of Roy Moore, chief justice
of the Alabama Supreme Court – represented Pat Fancher in the case.
Fancher's lawyers argued that the
Supreme Court's ruling striking down gay marriage bans in all 50
states should not apply retroactively.
“The issue is not whether someone may
marry a member of the same sex today. The issue is whether a court
may or should look back four years and recognize a marriage that was
not legally valid. Of course, if the marriage is recognized it will
only cause further economic harm to a family which has already lost
one its own. And if recognized, this man will be awarded an entire
spousal share of the wrongful death proceeds which would be unjust
even under normal circumstances considering the two were 'married'
less than 3 months,” the Foundation for Moral Law said in a brief.
District Judge Keith Watkins disagreed,
the Clerk of Court to “issue a check drawn on ServisFirst Bank
where the funds are deposited in a money market account for the
principal amount of $552,956.69, plus ninety percent of all interest
earned to date that is due for distribution to Plaintiff Paul Hard.”
The other 10 percent of interest will go to the court.
Watkins also denied a motion to set
aside his order.
(Brief provided by Equality