The state’s only openly gay lawmaker has prefiled a constitutional amendment that would repeal the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Rep. Patricia Todd, D-Birmingham, who married her long-time partner in Massachusetts on September 14, said in an interview Tuesday morning she does not expect the amendment to pass, but hopes it will start a conservation about the legal ramifications of the state ban. Voters approved the amendment in 2006, the same year Todd became the first openly gay lawmaker in Alabama history.
Last June, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act, which denied federal benefits to same-sex couples couples. The IRS announced on Sept. 30 that legally married same-sex couples will be recognized for tax purposes.
Todd said Alabama’s position will create conflicts with married same-sex couples seeking those benefits. Tax returns go to the state Revenue Department which, Todd said, “can not verify the marital status of people.”
“In some instances you have to recognize those legal marriages,” Todd said. “In Alabama, I’m going to my file my taxes jointly with my wife, and I’m going to file jointly in Alabama, because that’s what married people do.”
Todd also noted the military and private employers are beginning to recognize same-sex marriages. However, Todd said she did not expect to have the votes to pass the legislation.
“If (lawmakers) could vote blindly, I think I do,” she said. “But because it’s such a hot button issue, particularly in rural conservative areas, they’re not going to touch it.”
That was confirmed by House Speaker Mike Hubbard, R-Auburn, who said in a statement he would “oppose any effort” to change the current definition of marriage in Alabama.
“Rep. Todd is a hard-working, conscientious legislator, and I consider her a friend and valued colleague, but on this issue, my faith, my values, and my beliefs prevent me from supporting her efforts,” the statement said.
The 2006 amendment, known as Amendment 773, defines marriage as a “unique relationship between a man and woman,” and bans both the issuance of marriage certificates to same-sex couples and forbids the state from recognizing same-sex marriages conducted in other states.
Todd said she was also speaking with attorneys about potential court challenges to the state ban, though she did not get into details.
The two-term representative, who plans to run for re-election, said she was enjoying married life.
“We’ve been together eight years,” she said. “It is nice to know you have that legal document.”
– posted by Brian Lyman