Alabama Chief Justice Unfit For Office

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: February 22, 2002

Contact: Nathan Richter or Tracy Duckett at PFAW Foundation

Email: [email protected]

Phone Number: 202-467-4999

Bigoted diatribe against gay men and lesbians shows Chief Justice Roy Moore is incapable of dispensing equal justice, illustrates continuing inequality faced by gay Americans

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has proven that he is incapable of dispensing equal justice under the law, said People For the American Way Foundation President Ralph G. Neas, who joined outraged citizens of Alabama and from around the country who are calling for the Chief Justice to resign.

“Chief Justice Roy Moore’s exceedingly bigoted opinion in this case demonstrates that gay and lesbian Alabamians cannot and will not receive justice in his courtroom,” said Neas. “Moore has made it clear that he cannot separate his personal religious beliefs from his legal and constitutional obligations as a judge.”

On February 15, the Alabama Supreme Court ruled unanimously against a custody request by the children’s mother, a lesbian now living in California. While the majority opinion focused on the appropriate standard of appellate review of the trial court’s ruling, Moore wrote a legally unnecessary concurring opinion, using this case as an excuse for an extraordinary diatribe against gay men and lesbians. Moore’s opinion condemns homosexuality as “a crime against nature, an inherent evil, and an act so heinous that it defies one’s ability to describe it.” Moore claims that “common law designates homosexuality as an inherent evil, and if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent.”

Neas noted that Moore was able to draw on a long and unfortunate history of anti-gay legal opinions, legislation, and state Supreme Court rulings. “Alabama, like many other states, has a long history of legalized anti-gay discrimination,” said Neas. “But even in the context of that history, Moore’s opinion was remarkably venomous.”

Moore’s opinion goes so far as to imply that gays should be executed: “The State carries the power of the sword, that is, the power to prohibit conduct with physical penalties, such as confinement and even execution. It must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle.”

Neas noted that Moore’s claim that homosexuality itself makes a parent unfit either to have custody of his or her own children or to adopt children is strongly contradicted by a policy statement adopted in early February by the American Academy of Pediatrics. The AAP statement endorses legal and legislative efforts to permit the adoption of children by the second parent or co-parent in same-sex relationships.

State Representative Alvin Holmes has reportedly said he would ask the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission to review Moore’s opinion to see whether he should be removed. According to The New York Times, Holmes maintained that Moore had violated judicial canons that require a judge to “avoid conduct prejudicial to the administration of justice which brings the judicial office into disrepute” and to “not allow his family, social or other relationships to influence his judicial conduct or judgment.”

Moore has also demonstrated his hostility to the constitutional separation of church and state by insisting on displaying the Ten Commandments in his courtroom and in the Alabama Supreme Court building. As a circuit judge, he was criticized for opening his court sessions with Christian prayer.

Equality Begins at Home of Central Alabama is organizing a press conference on Chief Justice Roy Moore’s recent opinion on Friday, Feb. 22 at 3:00 p.m. in front of the Judiciary Building on Dexter Avenue in Montgomery, Alabama. People For the American Way Foundation and its Faith Action Network are supporting the efforts of Equality Begins at Home.