Justice

Alabama Minister Fined And Sentenced To Probation After She Tries To Marry A Same-Sex Couple

CREDIT: AP Photo/Randy Squires, File

The Alabama judicial system is engaged in a months-long campaign of resistance to the Constitution, refusing to comply with a federal court order holding that anti-gay marriage discrimination is unconstitutional. It brought the heel of the law down, however, upon a member of the clergy who sought to extend the Constitution’s promise of equal protection of the law to same-sex couples.

In February, the Rev. Anne Susan DiPrizio, a Unitarian minister offered to marry a lesbian couple at the Autauga County Probate Office after a state probate judge refused to do so. Though the couple had received a marriage license, Probate Judge Al Booth halted compliance with the federal court’s marriage equality order the day before. According to the Montgomery Advertiser, sheriff’s deputies were called and DiPrizio was arrested and charged with disorderly conduct after she refused to leave.

Last week, DiPrizio pled guilty. She received a 30 day suspended sentence, 6 months of probation and a $250 fine.

As a legal matter, government officials typically have the right to remove people from government buildings if those individuals interfere with the government’s legitimate operations. So it is unlikely that DiPrizio would have had a legal defense to the charges against her simply because the state is also violating the constitutional rights of same-sex couples. Nevertheless, there are no shortage of precedents where individuals trespassed in protest of a Southern state’s pro-discrimination policies — sit-ins targeting whites-only lunch counters and similar venues, after all, were a common tactic during the Civil Rights era.

Alabama officials, of course, typically did not treat these trespassers particularly kindly either.