LGBT rights in Alabama

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LGBT rights in Alabama
Alabama (USA)
Same-sex sexual activity legal? Legal since 2003
(Lawrence v. Texas)
Gender identity/expression Altering sex on birth certificate requires SRS
Discrimination protections None statewide
Family rights
Recognition of
Alabama Amendment 774 limits marriage to man/woman, places restrictions on non-marriage types of same-sex unions
Adoption State court denies joint adoption

Although same-sex sexual activity is legal in Alabama, same-sex couples are not eligible for the same protections available to opposite-sex married couples. Several advocacy groups in Alabama actively lobby for equal rights for its LGBT citizens; one of the largest is Equality Alabama. State Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, became Alabama's first openly gay public official when she was elected in 2006.[1]

Law regarding same-sex sexual activity[edit]

Same-sex sexual activity has been legal in Alabama since 2003, when the United States Supreme Court decision in Lawrence v. Texas struck down all state sodomy laws. The state's sodomy law, although unenforceable, has not been repealed by the Alabama Legislature.

Recognition of same-sex relationships[edit]

On August 29, 1996, Governor Fob James issued an executive order banning same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states or foreign countries.[2]

On April 9, 1998, the Alabama State House voted 79-12 in favor of a ban on same-sex marriage and recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states or foreign countries. On April 13, 1998, the Alabama State Senate approved the bill in a 30-0 vote.[3] Governor Fob James signed it into law.

On March 8, 2006, the Alabama State House voted 85-7 in favor of a constitutional ban on same-sex marriage and civil unions. On March 11, 2006, the Alabama State Senate approved the bill in a 30-0 vote.[4] On June 6, 2006, Alabama Amendment 774 passed, with 81% voting in favor, of a ban on both same-sex marriage and civil unions in the Alabama's state constitution.[5]

On February 13, 2014, the Southern Poverty Law Center filed suit in U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Alabama on behalf of Paul Hard challenging the state's ban on same-sex marriage, both in its statutes and constitution. Hard and his late husband, David Fancher, Alabama natives, wed in Massachusetts on May 20, 2011. Fancher died in an accident on August 1. The suit, Hard v. Bentley, names the governor, Robert Bentley, as defendant, along with several other government officials[6] Hard is asking for a corrected death certificate and recognition as Fancher's surviving spouse, entitled to a share of the proceeds of a wrongful death suit filed by the administrator of Fancher's estate.[7][8]


Alabama permits adoption by individuals. State law does not prohibit same-sex couples from adopting.[9]

On October 12, 2012, a unanimous Alabama Court of Civil Appeals turned down the request of a woman to adopt her same-sex spouse's child. The women had been married in California. The court held that Alabama law did not recognize the women as spouses.[10]

Discrimination protection[edit]

Map of Alabama cities that have sexual orientation anti–employment discrimination ordinances
  Sexual orientation in public employment
  Does not protect sexual orientation and gender identity in employment

Alabama law does not address discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation.[11]

The city of Montgomery prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation only.[12]

Hate crimes laws[edit]

Since 1994, Alabama has had a hate crimes law applicable to "race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, or physical or mental disability." The current law does not apply to crimes committed on account of sexual orientation or gender identity.[13]

On April 24, 2009, State Representative Alvin Holmes introduced HB533, a bill that would have added sexual orientation to the list of hate crime categories.[14] State Representative Patricia Todd, the legislature's first and only openly‐LGBT member, unsuccessfully attempted to add gender identity to the bill but was opposed by Holmes and other legislators. Holmes said he believed that his bill covering only sexual orientation would protect persons victimized as a result of their gender identity.[15] Holmes had introduced identical bills in previous sessions: HB829 (2008),[16] HB247 (2007),[17] HB57 (2006),[18] HB423 (2001),[19] HB85 (2000),[20] and has pushed for the inclusion of sexual orientation in the hate crimes law since at least 1999.[21]

In April 2009, the Alabama House of Representatives passed Holmes' bill by a vote of 46 to 41.[15][22][23] The Alabama Senate Judiciary Committee later approved the bill, but the full senate took no action on it before the legislature adjourned on May 15, 2009.[23][24]

Gender identity[edit]

Transsexual persons born in Alabama may request an amended birth certificate with a corrected name and sex after undergoing sex reassignment surgery.[25]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Patricia Todd, Alabama's first openly gay state legislator, coming to Huntsville to talk Supreme Court gay marriage rulings |". 2013-06-28. Retrieved 2013-11-02. 
  2. ^ "Governor Declares Same-Sex Marriages Illegal in Alabama". AP. 1996-08-30. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  3. ^,5596744&dq=marriage+ban&hl=en
  4. ^ "National Briefing | South: Alabama: Same-Sex Marriage Ban Advances". Alabama: New York Times. 2005-03-11. Retrieved 2014-06-29. 
  5. ^ Baptist Press: Michael Foust, "Ala. becomes 20th state to pass marriage amendment," June 7, 2006, accessed July 5, 2011
  6. ^ Gates, Verna (February 13, 2014). "Lawsuit challenges Alabama's ban on gay marriage". Reuters. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  7. ^ Polaski, Adam (February 13, 2014). "Southern Poverty Law Center files federal marriage lawsuit in Alabama". Freedom to Marry. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  8. ^ "SPLC challenges Alabama’s unconstitutional Marriage Protection Act and Sanctity of Marriage Amendment". Southern Poverty Law Center. February 13, 2014. Retrieved February 14, 2014. 
  9. ^ Human Rightts Campaign: Alabama Adoption Law, accessed July 5, 2011
  10. ^ Johnson, Bob (12 October 2012). "Court upholds Ala. act banning same-sex marriage". Mercury News. Retrieved 13 October 2012. 
  11. ^ "Alabama Non-Discrimination Law". 2007-03-09. Retrieved 2014-02-22. 
  12. ^ "Municipal Equality Index". Human Rights Campaign. Retrieved November 21, 2013. 
  13. ^ "Alabama Hate Crimes Law". Retrieved 2013-12-05. 
  14. ^ ALISON: Bills Sponsored by Representative Holmes: Regular Session 2009, accessed June 2, 2012
  15. ^ a b Birmingham News: Kim Chandler, "House Oks adding sexual orientation to hate crimes law, which now goes to Senate," April 24, 2009, accessed June 2, 2012
  16. ^ ALISON: Bills Sponsored by Representative Holmes: Regular Session 2008, accessed June 2, 2012
  17. ^ ALISON: Bills Sponsored by Representative Holmes: Regular Session 2007, accessed June 2, 2012
  18. ^ ALISON: Bills Sponsored by Representative Holmes: Regular Session 2006, accessed June 2, 2012
  19. ^ ALISON: Bills Sponsored by Representative Holmes: Regular Session 2001, accessed June 2, 2012
  20. ^ ALISON: Bills Sponsored by Representative Holmes: Regular Session 2000, accessed June 2, 2012
  21. ^ Phillip Rawls, "Committee adds sexual orientation to hate crimes," Times Daily (Florence, Alabama), January 17, 2006, accessed June 2, 2012
  22. ^ The Guardian: "On gay rights, two steps forward, one step back in the Alabama house", accessed June 2, 2012
  23. ^ a b Birmingham Weekly: "Alabama pays for Legislature's dead bills," May 21, 2009, accessed June 2, 2012
  24. ^ ALISON: Session Adjourn / Convene, accessed June 2, 2012
  25. ^ Human Rights Campaign: Alabama Birth Certificate Law: Gender Identity Issues, accessed July 5, 2011