It is unclear when the practice started, but for years certain counties in Alabama have been refusing to provide undocumented immigrants with marriage licenses. Since the early 2000s, attorneys general and federal judges across the U.S. have stated that denying an undocumented immigrant a marriage license violates a couple’s “fundamental right to marry” as outlined in the U.S. Constitution.
Samuel Brooke, a staff attorney at the Southern Poverty Law Center who works on the center’s Immigrant Justice Project, said the purpose of asking for identification is “to make sure that the person being married, that their name and identification, that their legal name is being recorded correctly, and that is the only real purpose.”
In 2011, when Brooke first heard that some Alabama counties were requiring “proof of lawful immigration status” in order to issue marriage licenses, he was shocked. It was the same year that Alabama passed House Bill 56, one of the toughest anti-immigration laws in the nation.
“This law had everything in it,” Brooke said. “But the one thing this law said was, don’t touch marriage licenses. We recognize that marriage is a fundamental right for all people; we recognize anyone should be able to get married. It doesn’t matter their immigration status or their history, they should be able to get married as long as they provide their legal name…”
Judge Sheila G. Moore, the probate judge of Winston County in northeastern Alabama, said in a telephone interview in November that anyone applying for a marriage license “must have proof that they are here legally.”
“It’s the state law,” she said. “Once they get married they think that makes them legal, but it doesn’t.”
I hope you didn’t think that qualifying to be a judge in Alabama means you’re actually knowledgeable enough, really qualified to be a judge by 21st Century standards.
Dennis Berry – priest in St. Joseph Parish in eastern Alabama
On Sundays, St. Joseph Parish, a Catholic mission in eastern Alabama, holds two Masses — one in English and one in Spanish — for a packed hall of congregants. The Rev. Dennis Berry, known more comfortably as Father Dennis, has worked at this parish on and off for eight years. Berry speaks fluent Spanish; he said it’s a necessity in order to connect with worshippers, many of whom are Hispanic.
He said he first heard that his parishioners in Russell County were being denied marriage licenses nine years ago…
So, he admitted, the church and the Hispanic community found ways to get around the requirement, including driving to Georgia, getting married civilly and returning to St. Joseph to be married in a religious ceremony…
“It’s discouraging family values and traditional marriage, which is a strange phenomenon for a state that so much wants to support traditional marriage,” he said with some frustration. “That they would make traditional marriage, in a Christian context, difficult for no reason except to make it difficult.”
…The SPLC has sent out letters telling counties they must comply, and many have changed their requirements. But much of his work, Brooke said, is educating the general population on what immigration law actually says.
“In fact, our Constitution is quite clear,” he said. “People are people first and need to be treated as such. The law couldn’t be clearer on the issue of marriage licenses. It doesn’t matter what your immigration status is, it doesn’t matter what your criminal history is, you have the right to marry the person of your choice, and that is fundamental.”
Meanwhile, since HB 56 passed, undocumentados can’t get a fishing license in Alabama. If you don’t have a green card, you need to drive somewhere like Florida, pay extra for an out-of-state license and fish there.
Idiots taking government backwards a couple of centuries.