Nets Continue to Stoke 'Major Battle Over Same-Sex Marriage' in Alabama

Following all three network evening newscasts on Monday devoting full reports to "a full blown civil rights battle" in Alabama after the state's supreme court chief justice refused to carry out a federal ruling allowing gay marriage in the state, the Tuesday morning shows on CBS, ABC, and NBC all continued to push the story.  

Introducing a full report on CBS This Morning, fill-in co-host Jeff Glor proclaimed: "A major battle over same-sex marriage is unfolding in Alabama this morning." On ABC's Good Morning America, co-host Robin Roberts announced: "...the high stakes showdown over marriage equality in Alabama." On NBC's Today, co-host Matt Lauer told viewers: "There's a new major fight in Alabama over same-sex marriage."  

On Monday, both CBS Evening News and ABC's World News Tonight compared Chief Justice Roy Moore opposing the legalization of gay marriage to those who opposed desegregation.

On Tuesday, only CBS This Morning repeated the extreme comparison, with correspondent Chip Reid lamenting the "judicial chaos" in the state and declaring: "Civil rights activists say Monday's battle is only the latest example of Alabama resisting federal power. They compare it to 1963, when then-Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway at the University of Alabama in opposition to federal orders to integrate Alabama's schools."

ABC's Good Morning America dropped the George Wallace reference, but still played a clip of correspondent Steve Osunsami pressing Moore: "Do you worry that you will end up on the wrong side of history here?"

Like NBC Nightly News, the Today show skipped any mention of Wallace.

On Tuesday, NBC correspondent Pete Williams did highlight how Moore "was removed from office" in 2003 after "he defied a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state supreme court building."

Here are transcripts of the February 10 network morning show coverage:

CBS This Morning
7:07AM ET

JEFF GLOR: A major battle over same-sex marriage is unfolding in Alabama this morning. It became legal there yesterday, but some judges are defying a federal order, and denying gay couples the ability to get a marriage license. Chip Reid is in Montgomery where the state’s top judge is behind the push to make sure same-sex marriage doesn't happen. Chip, good morning.

CHIP REID: Well, good morning. The situation here in Alabama is being described as judicial chaos. At this courthouse here in Montgomery, they are issuing licenses to same-sex couples, but in dozens of other courthouses across the state, they are refusing to do so. Mary Schmeck [sic] Jaileen Truner have been waiting five years to get married. Yesterday, they did it after an Alabama judge issued their license.

UNKNOWN PERSON:  Emotionally, it's been a rough ride but it’s worth it.

REID: Last month, a federal judge struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage, finding it violated the U.S. Constitution's equal protection clause. That decision took effect Monday, but not without judicial chaos.

ROY MOORE: It's about the institution of marriage. And when that institution is destroyed, it's the basic building block for our society.

REID: In a defiant challenge to federal authority, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state's probate judges not to issue marriage licenses.

MOORE: I issued this ruling, because of my duty to the constitution and laws of Alabama. But also because I believe that redefinition of marriage is not within the federal government.

REID: In a state where most people oppose same-sex marriage, many judges cited with Justice Moore, leaving some license bureaus empty. In Mobile, Milton Persinger faced a closed window.

MILTON PERSINGER: I should already be home celebrating. But no, I'm sitting here wondering what in the world are these people thinking?

REID: Civil rights activists say Monday's battle is only the latest example of Alabama resisting federal power. They compare it to 1963, when then-Governor George Wallace stood in the doorway at the University of Alabama in opposition to federal orders to integrate Alabama's schools. Moore denies there is a connection between then and now.

MOORE: This is not about race. This is not about recognition that all people are created equal. This is about choice. It's about redefining marriage.

REID: The U.S. Supreme Court will hear arguments on the issue of same-sex marriage in April, and a decision applying to the entire nation is expected sometime around the end of June. No one knows exactly what they will rule, but Supreme Court justice Clarence Thomas has suggested that it appears the majority may already have made up their minds to approve of same-sex marriage. Charlie?

CHARLIE ROSE: Chip, thanks.


Good Morning America
7:08AM ET

ROBIN ROBERTS: But right now the high stakes showdown over marriage equality in Alabama. Most counties in the state defying a federal judge's ruling legal identifying same-sex marriage refusing to issue marriage licenses. The state's Supreme Court chief justice is behind the order and ABC’s Steve Osunsami has that story for us.

STEVE OSUNSAMI: This morning, more than 50 state judges in Alabama still refusing gay marriages despite new federal law allowing them. Some even posting signs on the courthouse doors refusing to grant marriage licenses to anyone.

JOE BAKER: We waited 33 years for this. I mean it's a big disappointment.

OSUNSAMI: In Tuscaloosa they're turning gay couples away and handing them an order from Alabama's Supreme Court Chief Justice. Chief Justice Roy Moore is defying the federal judge’s decision that’s making Alabama the 37th state to allow same-sex marriage.

ROY MOORE: I think a redefinition of the word marriage is not found within the powers designated to the federal government.

OSUNSAMI: Moore is arguing that the federal ruling doesn't apply to state judges who issue marriage licenses because only he has authority over those judges and he wasn't named in the lawsuit. Do you worry that you will end up on the wrong side of history here?

MOORE: Wrong side of history? Absolutely not. Do they stop with one man and one man or one woman and one woman or do they go to multiple marriages or do they go with marriages between men and their daughters or women and their sons?

OSUNSAMI: Even so, more than a dozen counties in the state are still marrying gay couples.

UNKNOWN PERSON: We thought we'd have to go out of state and now we get to do it here.  

OSUNSAMI: Some court houses are agreeing to licenses but not weddings so volunteers from area churches are officiating ceremonies. Both Moore and Alabama's governor say they look forward to the U.S. Supreme Court deciding the issue possibly this summer. For Good Morning America, Steve Osunsami, ABC News, Montgomery, Alabama.

ROBERTS: A lot of discussion on social media about this yesterday.


Today
7:09 AM ET

MATT LAUER: Meanwhile, Tamron is in while Natalie's on assignment. And there's a new major fight in Alabama over same-sex marriage.

TAMRON HALL: Absolutely, guys, good morning. Good morning, everyone. The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused to block same-sex marriage in Alabama, but probate courts in roughly two-thirds of the state's counties declined to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. NBC's justice correspondent Pete Williams is in Washington with the very latest on this one. Pete, good morning.

[ON-SCREEN HEADLINE: Same-Sex Marriage Battle; Some Alabama Courts Refuse to Issue Licenses]

PETE WILLIAMS: Tamron, good morning. In Alabama it is local judges who give out marriage licenses and many are declining to do it after the chief justice of Alabama's supreme court weighed in. Some judges gave out marriage licenses anyway on Monday, bringing gay marriage to the heart of the deep south. Even though Roy Moore, the chief justice, told them to ignore a federal court ruling that struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage.

In 2003, he defied a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state supreme court building. He was removed from office but reelected three years ago.

The U.S. Supreme Court rejected a last-minute appeal from Alabama. The justices will take up the issue of gay marriage nationwide in April and by declining to put those marriages on hold in Alabama now, the Court appeared to be signaling that it will not stop them anywhere when it decides the issue in June. Tamron.

HALL: Alright, Pete, thank you very much.

NB Daily Culture/Society Conservatives & Republicans Same-sex marriage ABC Good Morning America CBS CBS This Morning NBC Today Steve Osusnami Jeff Glor Robin Roberts Matt Lauer Chip Reid Pete Williams

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