Christian evangelist Franklin Graham, who heads both the relief and development group Samaritan’s Purse and the Billy Graham Evangelistic Association, has weighed in on the dispute in Alabama on whether courts can order states to acknowledge and support same-sex marriage as they have in dozens of other states.
His Facebook posting takes the dozens of orders from mostly federal judges across the country that have imposed same-sex marriage on populations that voted against the idea and puts them in perspective.
“No earthly court has jurisdiction over the infallible Word of God,” he said.
Graham noted the U.S. Supreme Court ruled Monday that the state of Alabama must recognize same-sex marriages in spite of that state’s overwhelming vote to prohibit them. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is defying the order, asking state probate judges not to issue licenses to gay couples.
“I applaud Justice Moore and the many Alabama judges who are upholding the biblical definition of marriage between a man and a woman,” Graham said.
Only a handful of states have imposed same-sex marriage by a state court or legislative action. And voters in most of those states voted against allowing or recognizing homosexual marriage.
The U.S. Supreme Court, which includes two justices who already publicly have endorsed homosexual marriage by performing ceremonies, is scheduled to hear arguments in a few weeks.
Meanwhile, the Alabama Supreme Court on Friday ordered the state’s probate judges, the only ones in the state authorized to issue marriage licenses, to refrain from issuing licenses to same-sex duos.
“I am pleased that the Alabama Supreme Court has ordered an expedited briefing and is proceeding on a fast track,” said Mat Staver, chairman of Liberty Counsel, which filed the action.
“I suspect we will hear from the Alabama Supreme Court on our petition very soon.”
Eight-two percent of the voters in the state affirmed marriage as the union of one man and one woman, but just weeks ago, federal Judge Callie Granade overruled the vote.
Liberty Counsel noted that her ruling does not automatically create a law that validates same-sex marriage, as many are claiming, since she lacks the authority to order all probate judges to issue licenses.
The law and constitution in Alabama remains that marriage is the union of one man and one woman, Liberty Council explained.
Granade herself noted her order did not extend to the probate judges because they were not subject to an action before her court. To satisfy the homosexual plaintiffs in the original lawsuit who told her to find one probate judge in contempt, she reopened the case after it already was decided to add that judge as a defendant, so she could issue an order against him.
Staver told WND the precedent is alarming, as the judge was only added to the case after all the briefings, arguments and the decision.
Staver explained, “This case reveals the conflicts erupting across the United States as intolerant activists impose their will on the majority of Americans who refuse to participate in same-sex unions.
He said the same-sex marriage agenda “threatens religious liberty and freedom of conscience.”
“Although it is full of rhetoric about tolerance and equal rights, the agenda is anything but tolerant,” he said. “Christians and people of faith and values have been silenced through ‘hate speech’ laws. Now, magistrates, pastors, bakers, photographers, business owners, event planners and others are being forced against their will to celebrate and assist in something against their deeply held religious beliefs.”
The lawsuit stated: “While the federal court orders require that defendants make marriage licenses and marriage ceremonies available to same-sex couples, they do not require that every magistrate in the state be compelled to perform such ceremonies under threat of suspension, termination or even criminal prosecution. Any number of accommodations can be made for magistrates who object to issuing marriage licenses for a same-sex union.”
WND reported Moore told the state’s judges they needed to follow the state constitution, not a ruling from a federal judge who lacks jurisdiction, doesn’t have a constitutional basis for the decision and was infringing on state sovereignty. Granade has refused to respond to requests for comment.
Moore has told WND he’s not backing down, and the U.S. Supreme Court has declined so far to step in directly, declining a request from the state to extend a stay in the case. The high court is scheduled to listen to arguments on the very issue in a few weeks.
In Alabama, some of the judges have granted same-sex marriage licenses, others have granted the licenses but refused to perform ceremonies and some have closed their office.
The Liberty Counsel action was brought on behalf of the Alabama Citizens Action Program and the Alabama Policy Institute.
The state Supreme Court ruling on Friday said: “The respondents [the probate judges] are ordered to file answers, and, if they choose to do so, briefs, addressing issues raised by the petition, including, but not limited to, any issued relating to standing or other relating to this court’s subject-matter jurisdiction, and any issue relating to the showing necessary for temporary relief as requested in the petition.”
It set a deadline of 5 p.m. Wednesday.
Two of the nine state Supreme Court justices dissented on procedural grounds.