This marriage recognition lawsuit challenges Alabama’s constitutional and statutory prohibition on same-sex marriage.
April Aaron-Brush and Ginger Aaron-Brush were married in Massachusetts in June 2012. They have been together for 17 years and reside in Jefferson County. April works for the Social Security Administration in Birmingham. As a federal employee, April’s marriage to Ginger is recognized by her employer and she has access to all employee benefits enjoyed by married couples. Ginger is a tenured elementary school teacher decorated for excellence as a classroom teacher. Because of Alabama’s refusal to recognize same-sex marriage, Ginger does not enjoy the same entitlement and respect for her marriage by her employer; her employer, as an Alabama public entity, denies the very existence of her marriage.
April and Ginger have a seven year old daughter they are raising together equally. They always wanted to be parents and adopted a child to provide a nurturing and loving home. Because of Alabama’s prohibition on marriage, only one of them could adopt and now Ginger is a legal stranger to their daughter. But for Alabama’s refusal to recognize their marriage, Ginger would be entitled to adopt their daughter.
We seek to declare Alabama’s ban unconstitutional.
Following the Supreme Court’s grant of review in the four cases out of the Sixth Circuit (oral argument was held on April 28 with a decision expected by the end of June), we filed a joint motion to extend the deadline to file summary judgment motions until the end of July. The motion was granted.
Following the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell, the parties agreed that the merits were resolved. However, the state defendants moved to dismiss, claiming that the case was now moot. Although we argued that these plaintiffs are entitled to judgment, the district court dismissed the case as moot. We have moved for attorneys’ fees on the theory that the district court had directed the Defendants to take action (issue new drivers’ licenses based upon their Massachusetts marriage and to accept amended tax returns). The Court denied the motion for fees and we have filed an appeal on that issue. The appeal has been fully briefed and oral argument was held on January 24, 2017; Ed Still argued. With lightning speed, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed the denial of fees in an unpublished opinion on January 30. Aaron-Brush v. Attorney General, 2017 WL 393168, --- Fed.Appx. ---- (11th Cir. Jan. 30, 2017).