Alabama’s Chief Justice Declares Homosexuality ‘A Sin,’ Bases Custody
Ruling Partly on Bible
Americans United Says Moore’s Church-State Views Echo Dark Ages
For Immediate Release
Americans United for
Separation of Church and State, February 20, 2002
Contact: Joseph Conn, Rob Boston or Steve Benen
Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s reliance on religious
rhetoric to decide a case pending before him has sparked sharp criticism from
Americans United for Separation of Church and State.
Moore recently issued an opinion in a child-custody case calling
homosexuality "a sin" that "violates both natural and revealed
law." A portion of the ruling cites the biblical books of Genesis and
"It appears that Justice Moore is once again making his decisions on
the basis of his personal religious beliefs, not the commands of the
law," said the Rev. Barry W. Lynn, executive director of Americans United
for Separation of Church and State. "Justice Moore would make a great
official of the Inquisition, but he doesn’t belong on a state supreme court.
"I don’t know what to expect next from Moore," continued Lynn.
"Perhaps a witch burning?"
The decision in In Re: D.H. v. H.H. concerns a lesbian living in California
who sued her ex-husband in Alabama to obtain custody of the
couple’s three minor children. The Alabama Supreme Court unanimously
rejected the mother’s case, and Moore wrote a separate concurring opinion
blasting homosexuality on religious as well as legal grounds.
Among other things, Moore called homosexuality "an evil disfavored
under the law," "an inherent evil," a "detestable and an
abominable sin," and "an act so heinous that it defies one’s
ability to describe it."
Moore even suggested that execution is an appropriate penalty for gay
"The State," observed Moore, "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
Tracing the history of laws banning homosexuality, Moore, in his Feb. 15
ruling, cites passages from the books of Genesis and Leviticus and favorably
cites anti-sodomy laws in legal codes stretching back to the sixth century.
Moore writes, "No matter how much society appears to change, the law
on this subject has remained steadfast from the earliest history of the law,
and that law is and must be our law today. The 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."
Lynn criticized Moore for using his office to promote a fundamentalist
Christian agenda. He noted that Americans United is currently suing Moore in
federal court, challenging his display of a two-ton Ten Commandments monument
at the Supreme Court building in Montgomery.
"Moore apparently thinks we live in a theocracy, not a
democracy," Lynn said. "This opinion is remarkably ignorant. It
sounds like it was written in the Dark Ages, not the beginning of the 21st
Americans United is a religious liberty watchdog group based in Washington,
D.C. Founded in 1947, the organization educates Americans about the importance
of church-state separation in safeguarding religious freedom.
[Home] [News] [Alabama]