A man who lost his husband in a 2011 auto accident finally had his marriage legally recognized this morning in Alabama.Read more
The mother of a gay man who died in a car accident is demanding a federal court award her her son-in-law's share of the proceeds from a wrongful death lawsuit.Read more
In May of 2011, David Fancher, 53, married his longtime partner Dr. Paul Hard, 55. David was an information technology director at a trucking company in Birmingham. Paul teaches counseling and psychotherapy at Auburn University in Montgomery. The couple married in Massachusetts, since their home state of Alabama does not permit same-sex marriages. August 1, 2011, David was mortally injured in a car crash when his car struck an overturned UPS truck blocking the northbound lanes of Interstate 65. Hospital workers refused to provide a frantic Paul Hard any information about his husband's condition. A receptionist callously told Paul that he was not a member of Fancher's family because "gay marriages" are not recognized in Alabama. After an hour of pleading for information, Paul learned his beloved partner had died from a sympathetic hospital orderly. The following day, the funeral home director informed Paul that pursuant to Alabama law, David's death certificate would indicate he had never been married. The administrator of David's estate filed a wrongful death lawsuit, but again, because of Alabama law, ignored Paul's loss. David's mother would be the beneficiary of any award. Paul has no standing. Paul decided not to go away with his tail between his legs. He decided to sue Alabama.
"If I can spare one other person that kind of indignity and hurt, I would do it. If I can let people know how this law unjustly and cruelly affects people, I will do it. And ultimately I hope that these laws are overturned so that it now longer can give folks permission to treat Americans as second-class citizens."
The Southern Poverty Law Center agreed to take on Paul's case. Their lawsuit names Governor Robert Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange, and the administrator of David's estate. The suit contends Alabama's Marriage Protection Act and Sanctity of Marriage Amendment violates both the Equal Protection and Due Process clauses of the U.S. Constitution. If the amendment is struck down, Paul will be able to have David's death certificate amended to reflect his correct marital status. He will also be entitled to share in any proceeds from the wrongful death suit.
Upon hearing about the lawsuit of her son-in-law, David's 75-year-old mother, Pat Fancher, (right) suffered an embarrassing attack of homophobia, releasing this statement:
“I am a devout Christian and I am deeply disturbed that the death of my son David is being used by Dr. Paul Hard to advance the cause of same-sex marriage. I did not agree with all of the decisions that my son made, but I loved him very much and we always had a good relationship. It is wrong for David’s death to be used in this manner.”
Ms. Fancher contacted the The Foundation for Moral Law, a right-wing legal organization founded by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, the judge who famously refused to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse, even when ordered to by the U.S. Supreme Court. The Foundation for Moral Law issued this statement about the case:
"Ms. Fancher contacted us here at the Foundation for Moral Law and expressed that she does not want the death of her son being used by certain special interest organizations as a means to promote homosexual marriage by striking down Alabama’s Constitutional Marriage Amendment. We are humbled to represent Ms. Fancher as her legal counsel in this matter. We filed a motion to intervene alongside the Attorney General’s office as a party in Hard v. Bentley and we are pleased to announce that motion was granted."
If you think that sounded reasonable and professional and lawyerly, the statement didn't stop there. You knew there was a lecture coming, didn't you?
"We here at the Foundation agree with Ms. Fancher. Ms. Fancher and the majority of Alabamians, believe marriage is an institution established by God for the governance of the most basic unit of society, the family, and this institution is intended to be between one man and one woman. The Foundation will protect not only Ms. Fancher’s beliefs and interests, but also the right of Alabama citizens to preserve the traditional definition of marriage."
Paul Hard's lawsuit to require Alabama to recognize his marriage will now pit The Southern Poverty Law Center and the Foundation for Moral Law head-to-head. Stay tuned. Ideology-wise, it doesn't get more night and day than this case. Paul and David's Photo Google+