NGLTF Condemns Remarks by Alabama Chief Justice; Recalls Third Anniversary of Brutal Hate Crime in State

February 19, 2002

The National Gay and Lesbian Task Force (NGLTF) today condemned remarks made by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore as part of a 9-0 decision that took custody of three children away from their lesbian mother.

The Court last week awarded custody of three Alabama teens to their father rather than their lesbian mother. In the court's opinion, Chief Justice Moore wrote, "common law designates homosexuality as an inherent evil, and if a person openly engages in such a practice, that fact alone would render him or her an unfit parent." Moore went on to say that homosexuality is "abhorrent, immoral, detestable, a crime against nature, and a violation of the laws of nature." He quoted scripture, historical documents, and previous state court rulings that he said backed his view.

"It is appalling to see that blatant bigotry and unrepentant ignorance reign supreme in Alabama's highest court. Chief Justice Moore has decreed that his personal religious beliefs will now be the law of the land in Alabama. This violates the constitutional mandate of separation of church and state and it renders him unfit to serve as a judge," said Lorri L. Jean, executive director of NGLTF. "Moore's beliefs about gay parenting fly in the face of indisputable evidence to the contrary. His opinions about homosexuality are out of step with the American public and have no place in a court of law. He should be recalled from the bench."

As a result of the comments by the chief justice, Alabama GLBT advocacy organizations have called for his removal. "He is not fit to serve on the Alabama Supreme Court," said David White, state coordinator of the Gay and Lesbian Alliance of Alabama. Ken Baker, Equality Begins at Home chairman, said, "Judge Roy Moore has shown that he is not capable of judging gay and lesbian citizens fairly and should resign immediately."

Jean's remarks were referring to the following research, all supporting adoption:

  • Earlier this month, the American Academy of Pediatrics stated that, "A growing body of scientific literature demonstrates that children who grow up with 1 or 2 gay and/or lesbian parents fare as well in emotional, cognitive, social, and sexual functioning as do children whose parents are heterosexual."
  • The American Psychological Association reports "not a single study has found children of gay or lesbian parents to be disadvantaged in any significant respect relative to children of heterosexual parents."
  • The Child Welfare League of America, the nation's premier child advocacy organization, states that "in considering gay and lesbian prospective adoptive parents, sexual orientation and the capacity to nurture a child are separate issues and should not be confused."
  • The American Academy of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry, and the North American Council on Adoptable Children also support evaluating gay and lesbian applicants for adoption the same as heterosexual applicants.

Rally and Vigil Tonight in Alabama

At 7 p.m. tonight on the steps of the State Capitol in Montgomery, activists will hold a rally and vigil in memory of victims of violence including Billy Jack Gaither, murdered three years ago today in Coosa County, Ala. On Feb. 19, 1999, Gaither was taken to a remote location, bludgeoned to death with an axe handle, and his body placed on a pile of burning tires. His charred remains were discovered the next day. Charles Monroe Butler and Steven Eric Mullins, who confessed to planning the crime weeks in advance and attributed their act to Gaither's sexual orientation, were sentenced to life in prison. The year of the murder, Alabama reported no hate crimes to the FBI in its annual crime report.

"There is a connection between hateful speech and hateful action," continued Jean. "On the anniversary of the brutal slaying of Billy Jack Gaither, we call for an end to abhorrent rhetoric like that of Chief Justice Moore."

The rally and vigil comes as Alabama's Senate Judiciary Committee is set to vote on SB 31, an amendment to add sexual orientation to the state's hate crime law. The vote is expected on Thursday, Feb. 21.


The mission of the National Gay and Lesbian Task Force is to build the political power of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community from the ground up. We do this by training activists, organizing broad-based campaigns to defeat anti-LGBT referenda and advance pro-LGBT legislation, and by building the organizational capacity of our movement. Our Policy Institute, the movement’s premier think tank, provides research and policy analysis to support the struggle for complete equality and to counter right-wing lies. As part of a broader social justice movement, we work to create a nation that respects the diversity of human expression and identity and creates opportunity for all. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., we also have offices in New York City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis and Cambridge.