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Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2015

Same Sex Marriage Heather Fann; Boyd, Fernambucq, Dunn & Fann sel, and facilitated my rearend off while others did all the heavy lifting. I at least knew who else to call to find out who else to call. The ACLU of Alabama stepped in to join forces, and I began to witness the first of what have been months of amazing, meticulous work by truly dedicated attorneys from across the country. On the problems of what was more than a handful of couples, in a state that mattered just as much as all the others. Kim McKeand, Heather Fann & Cari Searcy Before the day was out, the sweet couple at the front of the line, Robert Povilat and Milton Persinger, were also my clients, along with two other female couples, and the Searcy lawyers had new clients as well. We spent the late afternoon and evening brainstorming and correcting typos on statements and signing and preparing to file a motion late evening adding the new plaintiffs and naming a new defendant in Judge Davis. I made the retail rounds for pajamas and a new suit and crashed in a hotel exhausted with all the life that had swirled around me all day, but feeling on the precipice of something unprecedented. On Tuesday morning we returned with less energy but renewed faith. My original clients arrived first but – in a gesture that abides as one of the loveliest I encountered in this journey – held the chairs that sat immediately in front of the window for the new clients that had been there so early the morning before. The windows still didn’t open but the community, and their team, had formed and was growing. A hearing was set for Thursday afternoon. Despite the disappointment of further delay for so many, I said a silent prayer of gratitude for my own family: I could return home to be with my son on his first birthday that Wednesday. He’d sit through more telephone conferences than most children do on such an occasion, but I’d be spared the classic heartbreak of a working mother’s impossible choices. And Thursday, there’d be an efficient hearing, and optimism leading us back to the courthouse, a quick order, and cheers and tears as those windows finally opened just shy of time to close the courthouse. I watched four sets of clients receive licenses from friendly court staff and rush out for ceremonies, and several other couples I’d come to like very much in the last 30 hours. We’d all become such fans of one another it was frustrating to not get to watch each of them individually as they beamed at several different windows. So many couples who didn’t so much notice that they’d been denied the simple blessing of choosing a convenient date to marry, so grateful they were finally to merely be allowed to do so. The mandamus order issued in response to the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program’s request for the same was looming, but marriage would be performed during the interim which has come to be known as “the window,” and we all knew the United States Supreme Court would within months make a decision likely to clarify the confusion that became the rule in Alabama and some other states. On the evening before the historic April 28th U.S. Supreme Court oral argument on same sex marriage, I attended a Freedom to Marry event in Washington, D.C., and the rally that morning in front of the courthouse while Obergefell played out inside; I had no hope of getting in to hear it in person but wanted to be part of the team present in Washington, D.C. for my clients, friends, and for myself. I would listen carefully to the Justices’ questions once the audio became available online later in the day, and in the meantime heard speeches from both sides and observed what many junior high civics teachers might cheerily call “democracy in action”: Each side of the issue voicing their opinions, though the tone differed among those on each of those sides. Young men in suits and smiling, slim young blonde women gave prepared speeches about religious freedom. Men in T-shirts with large signs denouncing sexual sin shouted and employed microphones – sometimes simultaneously. One man in a suit who made the cut for The Daily Show coverage wandered the stretch in a suit blowing a shofar. Rainbow and equality flags abounded. Witty, sometimes biting, and sentimental signage littered the crowd. Diverse religious groups bore banners. Children accompanied their parents, and some proudly spoke about their homosexual parents and – with great conviction -- how their families were deserving of equal recognition. A couple of them were so young Continued on page 38 14 Birmingham Bar Association


Birmingham Bar Association Bulletin Fall 2015
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