Alabama Judge Defends Anti-Gay Remarks
March 4, 2002
Source: Southern Voice
By Mike Fleming
MONTGOMERY, Ala.—State Supreme Court Chief Justice
Roy Moore insisted last week he was only following established judicial
precedent when he issued an official opinion calling homosexuality an
"inherent evil" that makes gays "presumptively unfit" to
"I was quoting common law. This is a common law state," Moore
said Feb. 20, according to the Associated Press. "I was just going by the
Moore is barred by law from discussing any Supreme Court decision in
detail, but he briefly addressed the general issue as he left a budget
hearing. Common law is the doctrine that judicial decisions are based on the
way the law has been interpreted in the past.
Alabama conservatives also stepped up to defend Moore last week, as local
and national gay groups continued to protest the chief justice’s remarks,
made in a concurring opinion issued Feb. 15 in a lesbian mother’s custody
"In this age of political correctness, some people are going to
condemn his outspokenness, but I’m certainly not," Alabama Republican
Party leader Marty Connors told AP. "I think he’s right."
Connors and Alabama GOP executive director Tim Baer did not respond to
requests for further comment on the official state party stance on the issue.
Meanwhile, the leader of Alabama’s Christian Family Association heckled a
protest by pro-gay faith leaders before grabbing the microphone to denounce
gays as "a fringe group" that is nothing more than "a gnat on
the rear end of an elephant," according to the Birmingham News.
"It is an absolute shame to have people that are calling themselves
men of God to stand up here and condone the homosexual lifestyle," Dean
Young said, according to the newspaper.
He called homosexuality "a deviant, destructive lifestyle" and
said pastors who condone it need to "need to get another job," the
Religious, civil rights leaders denounce Moore
Young and a handful of other Moore supporters disrupted the Feb. 22 protest
on the steps of the state judicial building that included some 50 ministers of
various faiths, national gay politicos and a bulletin board wrapped in more
than 200 fax statements against Moore, said Ken Baker, executive director of
Equality Begins at Home of Central Alabama.
"The protest was a way to let the people of Alabama and the nation
know that all people of faith don’t think the way Judge Roy Moore
does," Baker said. "We needed to let the gay people here know that
people outside the state care so they don’t feel as isolated. It was a
chance for the truly fair-minded folks of Alabama to speak out and be
The rally also included speeches by national gay leaders from the National
Gay & Lesbian Task Force and the Human Rights Campaign, Baker said.
The activists criticized remarks Moore made in a non-requisite concurring
opinion filed with a unanimous Supreme Court decision against lesbian mother
Dawn Huber, who is vying for custody of her children.
While the official decision—written by another justice—was framed in
legal grounds not related to the mother’s sexual orientation, Moore’s
opinion focused solely on that aspect of the case.
The 30-page opinion called homosexuality "detestable and
abominable" and an "inherent evil" that goes against biblical
scripture and Alabama law. Moore’s document specified that in Alabama, those
who break the law are subject to "confinement and even execution. [The
state] must use that power to prevent the subversion of children toward this
lifestyle, to not encourage a criminal lifestyle." That remark led some
activists to condemn Moore for inciting violence against gays.
"To call for the execution of people for who they are is to set
American law and basic civil rights back at least 40 years," protest
participant Laura Montgomery-Rutt, a representative of spiritual group Equal
Partners in Faith, said in an interview.
"It’s ironic to me that this debacle is coming out of Montgomery,
where the civil rights movement began and similar violence was condoned
against African-Americans," said Montgomery-Rutt, also a member of
Americans United for the Separation of Church & State. "It’s
unacceptable and Roy Moore needs to be stopped."
Moore was only quoting the law and not condoning violence, Stephen Melchior,
a Wyoming attorney who has represented Moore in legal battles, told the
"You’ve got to go out of your way, to just flat out lie, to say he
wants to execute homosexuals," Melchior said, according to the AP.
Along with last week’s protest, Moore’s comments have drawn two
complaints with the state’s judicial office. After filing an official
complaint Feb. 20 with the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, attorneys with
the Lambda Legal Defense & Education Fund disputed that Moore followed the
"It is important that all people of Alabama know they are entitled to
a fair shake under the law," said Greg Nevins, staff attorney with Lambda’s
Atlanta-based Southern Regional Office. "Judge Moore’s comments are
clearly prejudiced and we believe that’s against the law. He clearly cannot
"We trust that the Judicial Commission will take their duties
seriously, give the complaint a fair hearing and so will see that a violation
of the law exists," Nevins said.
A separate but similar complaint against Moore was filed Feb. 18 by state
Rep. Alvin Holmes (D-Montgomery), a longtime civil rights supporter in the
"A judge is supposed to rule according to the laws based on the
statutes set forth by the legislature and the state constitution," Holmes
said. "But [Moore] has based his judgement on his personal and religious
opinions, which is prohibited. Nowhere in Alabama law does it say that
homosexuality or being gay or a lesbian is evil. The evidence will show that
he needs to be removed from office."
The Judicial Inquiry Commission has 10 days to serve copies of the
complaints to Moore and to acknowledge receipt to the complainants. The
nine-member panel of judges, attorneys and laypersons then has 42 days to
decide whether an investigation is necessary; if no decision is made, the
complaint is null and void, said Margaret Childers, executive director of the
"If they decide to investigate, the judge will be immediately notified
and periodically updated on the process," Childers said. "The
complainants will not be similarly notified unless the commission decides to
bring charges in Judicial Court. The details of the investigation are
completely confidential between the commission and the judge, and in fact we
can’t even verify if a complaint has been received."
By law, the commission will never make a public statement about the
investigation unless the judge requests it, Childers said. The hearing becomes
public information if charges are filed and the case goes before the state
Judicial Court, a special court outside the regular criminal and civil court
Moore’s written statement that calls gays "abhorrent"
constitutes evidence that he cannot impartially perform his duties and should
step down or be unseated, Nevins said.
A spokesperson from Moore’s office told the AP that the judge has no
intention of stepping down.
Ala. Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore
300 Dexter Avenue
Montgomery, Alabama 36104-3741
Equality Begins at Home of Central Alabama
[Home] [News] [Alabama]