Alabama Sanctity of Marriage, Constitutional Amendment 774 (June 2006)

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The Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, also known as Constitutional Amendment 774, was on the June 6, 2006 ballot in Alabama as a legislatively-referred constitutional amendment, where it was approved. The measure defined marriage as an "unique relationship between a man and a woman" and prohibited the state from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[1]

The passage of the amendment, which was approved by a majority in every county, made Alabama the 20th state to adopt a constitutional amendment defining marriage.[1] The amendment was rendered null by a federal court in February 2015.[2]


On January 23, 2015, Judge Callie Granade of the US District Court for Southern Alabama struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, saying the ban violated gay and lesbian citizens equal protection and due process rights. Judge Granade said the state failed to provide "rational, much less compelling," arguments connecting the deterioration of "the biological family structure the state wishes to promote" and same-sex marriage. She went on, "The Attorney General does not explain how allowing or recognizing same-sex marriage between two consenting adults will prevent heterosexual parents or other biological kin from caring for their biological children."[2] The decision was stayed until February 9, 2015.[3]

The state attempted to appeal the decision, but the 11th US Circuit Court of Appeals opted against extending the lower court's stay past February 9.[4]

On February 8, the day before same-sex marriages were to become legal in the state, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state's probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to same-sex couples.[5] The New York Times described Chief Justice Moore's move as a "dramatic show of defiance toward the federal judiciary." Moore believes that the probate judges don't have to follow Judge Callie Granade's orders, saying, "I think I’ve done what I can do: advise the state court probate judges that they’re not bound by any ruling of the Federal District Court." The conflict between Moore and Grande, the state judiciary and the federal judiciary, created a legal conundrum in Alabama until the United States Supreme Court addressed the issue on February 9.[6]

On February 9, 2015, the US Supreme Court said it would not extend the stay on Judge Granade's ruling.[7]

Election results

Alabama Amendment 774 (June 2006)
OverturnedotOverturned Case:Searcy v. Strange 
Yes 697,591 81.18%

Text of the amendment

Ballot title

The language appeared on the ballot as:[1]

Proposing an amendment to the Constitution of Alabama of 1901, to provide that no marriage licenses shall be issued in Alabama to parties of the same sex and that the state shall not recognize a marriage of parties of the same sex that occurred as a result of the law of any other jurisdiction. (Proposed by Act 2005-35)



Constitutional changes

See also: Amendment 774

The proposed amendment added Amendment 774 of the Alabama Constitution. The following text was added by the proposed measure's approval:[1]

Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.

(a) This amendment shall be known and may be cited as the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.

(b) Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman. As a matter of public policy, this state has a special interest in encouraging, supporting, and protecting this unique relationship in order to promote, among other goals, the stability and welfare of society and its children. A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state.

(c) Marriage is a sacred covenant, solemnized between a man and a woman, which, when the legal capacity and consent of both parties is present, establishes their relationship as husband and wife, and which is recognized by the state as a civil contract.

(d) No marriage license shall be issued in the State of Alabama to parties of the same sex.

(e) The State of Alabama shall not recognize as valid any marriage of parties of the same sex that occurred or was alleged to have occurred as a result of the law of any jurisdiction regardless of whether a marriage license was issued.

(f) The State of Alabama shall not recognize as valid any common law marriage of parties of the same sex.

(g) A union replicating marriage of or between persons of the same sex in the State of Alabama or in any other jurisdiction shall be considered and treated in all respects as having no legal force or effect in this state and shall not be recognized by this state as a marriage or other union replicating marriage.[8]

Campaign contributions

  • According to reports, no money was spent for the campaign either for or against the measure leading up to the election.[9]

Related measures

Voters in 30 states have approved legislatively-referred constitutional amendments or initiated constitutional amendments prohibiting same-sex marriages at the ballot box. The first constitutional prohibition was in 1998, and the latest one occurred in May 2012. Most of these amendments define marriage along the lines of a "union of one male and one female."


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters, but later overturned by courts:


Cases overturning the following bans have been appealed to higher courts and are currently stayed:

Note: Same-sex marriage is legal in St. Louis County and the state recognizes same-sex marriages.


The following constitutional bans were approved by voters and have been upheld or not overturned by courts:


The following constitutional bans were defeated by voters:

Note: Arizonans defeated a measure in 2006, but approved one in 2008, which has been overturned.

See also

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