Updated September 28 at 3:30 P.M. EST: There was no decision in Roy Moore's trial today. A decision is expected within the next 10 days.
This post originally appeared on www.al.com
By Paul Hard, a licensed counselor and a counselor educator at AUM. He filed a lawsuit in Alabama seeking recognition for his marriage after the death of his husband.
In the name of God, they mocked the death of a good man.
On August 8th in front of the Alabama Supreme Court, I was sharing my story about how I lost my husband in a tragic accident, and a group of Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore's supporters laughed at me. A man jeered, tauntingly, over my words: "you can't have a husband!" This heckler, who opposes my rights because he claims to be "Christian," was there to support Roy Moore, who from the highest court in the state has consistently tried to tell LGBTQ Alabamians the same thing: you can't be married; that's not for you.
This is not the first time my marriage was demeaned and belittled. And, this was not the first time that it was done so in the name of Roy Moore.
That hot August day, I had arrived at the courthouse steps with the Human Rights Campaign and other LGBTQ rights groups to witness Roy Moore's ethics trial. Moore was suspended from the bench this spring, after judicial ethics charges were brought against him due to his actions around marriage equality in Alabama. It was there that a group of Moore's most radical supporters – mostly holding aloft religious signs and preaching eternal damnation – had gathered. It was there that people preaching about the sanctity of life were denying the dignity of LGBTQ lives. These people were assembled to cheer on Roy Moore's discriminatory actions.
By now you know the story: since 2015, Moore has used every possible tactic available to him as the head of the Alabama Supreme Court in order to block marriage equality. He did it deliberately, he did it consistently and he did it because of his own personal agenda.
For proof of his radical agenda, look no further than the group he enlisted to help him fight his ethics charges: the Liberty Counsel. This group, headed by Mat Staver, has defended Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis and champions anti-LGBTQ discrimination around the world. It is infamous for fighting against the rights of people like me.
The rhetoric and legal tactics of people like Roy Moore and the Liberty Counsel can have disastrous real-world effects.
I legally married my late husband David Fancher in Massachusetts in 2011, but he was killed in an accident in Alabama just over two months later. Because my marriage was not recognized as valid in Alabama, I was not able to be recognized as a surviving spouse, and I was unable to collect damages from a wrongful death lawsuit because we were legal strangers according to Alabama law.
I was not recognized as David's surviving spouse until the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in favor of a constitutional right to marriage for all. This ruling came four excruciating years after my late husband's death, and many months after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade ruled that Alabama must offer marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Throughout my struggle with recognition, the last person in Alabama holding up the recognition of my marriage was Roy Moore.
On August 8th, Moore and his supporters held a press conference following the conclusion of the hearing, which set another trial date for September 28th. As Moore, a man who has made my life more difficult, spoke, our group of LGBTQ Alabamians and allies waited quietly to say our piece.
As we began to hold our own press conference, Moore's supporters wandered over and began to shout us down: heckling, booing, laughing at us. These so-called Christians spewed venom at us, and did so in the name of God, and in the name of Roy Moore.
The God I know would not condone laughter at another man's pain, and He certainly wouldn't support cruelty in His name.
Today, September 28th, I will be at the Alabama Supreme Court again, to hear the final decision on Moore's fate. Moore's supporters will likely be there, too, but if there's one thing I've learned in the last five years, it's to not back down from a bully who says I am anything less than equal.
Roy Moore has used his position of power to bully LGBTQ Alabamians. His words have emboldened his fanatical supporters, and his actions have harmed those who he was sworn to protect. He is unethical, and unfit to serve our state.
It's time for Roy Moore to be dismissed, and I'll be there to send him off.