Alabama's chief justice has jumped into the debate on same-sex marriage by encouraging all 50 U.S. governors to push for an amendment to the U.S. constitution that would define marriage as being solely between a man and woman.
Roy Moore, chief justice of the state's Supreme Court, sent a letter to all 50 governors on Wednesday, encouraging their legislatures to approve of a convention that would address a constitutional amendment defining marriage as between a man and a woman, both on a state and federal level. In the letter, Moore cited the U.S. Constitution's Article V, which forces Congress to address an amendment if 34 states vote that a convention is necessary. Moore told The Associated Press that he feels employing the Amendment V Convention is a better option than the alternative two-thirds vote amendment approval by each house of Congress.
"I think the time is ripe for that to happen with the political atmosphere in Congress. They can't get along or agree on anything," Moore said of an Article V Convention, which has never been held. The chief justice added that a state-initiated constitutional amendment would stop judges from legalizing same-sex marriages on a state-wide level, as seen recently in Utah. "Government has become oppressive, and judges are warping the law."
"The moral foundation of our country is under attack," Moore added.
Moore sent his letter to all 50 states, including Virginia, where recently the attorney general refused to defend the state's ban on same-sex marriage, and a federal court has now agreed to hear a bid that may overturn the state ban. Moore also sent a letter to Oregon, where voters may be able to approve of same-sex marriage in the November 2014 elections.
In response to Moore's letter, Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley told AP that he has no problem with Moore's new effort but also believes the issue of same-sex marriage should be left up to the states' voters.
"I am a states' rights person. Marriage licenses are issued by the state. I do believe that most things should be left on a state level," he said.
The American Civil Liberties Union issued a response to Moore's move, with Executive Director Susan Watson saying in a statement Thursday that she believes Moore is contributing to a more oppressive government. "Chief Justice Roy Moore said that government has become oppressive and this is yet another perfect example of his contributions to the matter," Watson said, according to al.com.
"His definition of marriage as 'one man-one woman' is a religious one. We support everyone's rights to have their own religious beliefs, but he is chronically imposing his beliefs on others."
Moore has previously gained national attention for his fight to keep a Ten Commandments monument at the state judicial building that he installed in 2000. He was eventually kicked out of office in 2003 for refusing to remove the monument following a lawsuit, and was re-elected in 2012.