Sweet Home Politics

Tuesday, September 25th, 2018   |   Español

Category Archive: News

  1. Some Scream for [Heteronormative] Ice Cream

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    I Scream! You Scream! We all scream!

    Over ice cream.

    Over the past several days, a number of seemingly homophobic tweets from Garrett Shirey, of Muscle Shoals’ Shirey Ice Cream, have circulated the internet.

    His ire, it seems, was the result of the Boy Scouts considering a change to their anti-LGBT policies. On Jan. 28, 2013, he fired off, “‘@ShoalsNews: Scouts considering retreat from no-gays policy dlvr.it/2sJyKB’ Putrid. Shame on the BSA! Sissified effeminates.”

    It has become the tweet heard around all of Alabama.

    Since then, Shirey’s tweets (though private) were screen-captured and have spread quickly via social media.

    Garrett Shirey Tweets

    On May 5, Muscle Shoals’ Jack-O-Lantern Farm announced on Facebook that, due to Shirey’s comments, they would no longer carry his product. On May 7, The Red Clay Epicurean announced that, they too, were pulling their support.

    “Due to the recent comments made by Garret Shirey, that we do not agree with, we are no longer carrying Shirey Ice Cream,” Jack-O-Lantern Farm stated.

    Alan Phillips, executive chef and owner of The Red Clay Epicurean, said “I will not discuss the content here. I will say that I found the hateful language disgusting. I feel that I can no longer use, promote or associate with Shirey Ice Cream at this time.”

    The fallout has only continued to grow, as customers on both sides of the argument have posted on the companies’ Facebook pages that they will boycott Shirey Ice Cream and Jack-O-Lantern Farm, respectively, for their views regarding the situation.

    Earlier today, Equality Alabama, a pro-LGBT rights organization, issued a press release supporting those businesses standing with the LGBT community.

    “Equality Alabama stands with companies like Jack-O-Lantern Farm who are not afraid to stand with an estimated 480,000 LGBT-identifying persons in Alabama,” stated Ben Cooper, Chairperson of Equality Alabama. “We fully acknowledge that Garrett Shirey has every right to speak his mind, but we further acknowledge that LGBT consumers and businesses have every right to decide where to spend their money.”

    Many of Alabama’s largest employers are more accepting than Shirey Ice Cream when it comes to LGBT issues, Equality Alabama noted. Blue Cross Blue Shield of Alabama now offers insurance to same-sex couples, and Alabama Power and The University of Alabama at Birmingham offer same-sex spousal benefits to their employees.

    “Mr. Shirey’s comments are disheartening and will sadly do nothing but further the narrative of Alabama as a place where bigotry and inequality still exist,” Cooper went on to say. “Equality Alabama knows well, though, that the tides of change are not only turning with voters, but also with business owners. We support Jack-O-Lanter Farm and all Alabama businesses who support the LGBT community.”

    Amidst the growing fire over their product, Shirey Ice Cream Owner, Reese Shirey, issued the following statement on Tuesday.

    Most of you know, Jack-O-Lantern Farms has removed Shirey Ice Cream from their store. Their stated reason was that they feared losing business by being associated with Shirey Ice Cream. Primarily they took issue with some of Garrett’s tweets where he explained his biblical-based convictions that show homosexuality to be sin. One could argue unendingly about the verbiage Garrett used but that’s really a sideline issue. The truth is, I agree with Garrett on these biblical convictions concerning human sexuality and the definition of marriage.

    My brother, Garrett Shirey, is one of the best men and best Christians I know. It’s totally unfair and untrue when he has been called on social media a “hater” and a “bigot.” Garrett has worked regularly helping me in the business and always treats everyone the same regardless of their sexual orientation, race, gender, or whatever. Garrett, Austin, and I are conservative evangelical Christians in doctrine and in our moral convictions. This is not a secret. Those with whom I’ve worked with closely know this.

    Let me be very clear that my Christian principles require me to treat everyone with Christian love and respect. All are welcome to associate with Shirey Ice Cream as customers or as business collaborators. We have an impeccable record of treating all our customers and associates in this Christian spirit.

    But it should be equally clear that I am not ashamed to claim Jesus Christ as my Lord and Savior. Though I am very imperfect and fail Him often, it’s my genuine heart’s desire to serve Him above all others. This includes holding to clear, biblical designations of many actions as sinful including adultery, lying, stealing, fornication, homosexuality, and others. We all struggle and all sin; I certainly do. But I want to humble myself and repent when I do and keep growing as a believer. I cannot, and will not, promote or celebrate that which God calls sin.

    If this is cause for some to hate me and even work to destroy me and my business, so be it. I cannot and will not change. God is good and is sovereign, and may allow you success in hurting me. Then again, He may thwart your efforts and bless me. Either way, may He be served and praised.

    Sincerely,
    Reese Shirey
    Owner of Shirey Ice Cream

  2. TIME Magazine Names James Spann One of Best Twitter Feeds in 2014

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    Last week, TIME Magazine named Birmingham, Ala. meteorologist James Spann as one of the 140 best twitter feeds of 2014.

    “The Birmingham-based meteorologist constantly responds to his 144k+ Twitter followers’ weather-related questions and retweets user-submitted photos from around the state, all while helming the televised weather forecast on a local ABC affiliate’s news show,” writes TIME reporter and Alabama-native, Victor Luckerson. “He helped pioneer the use of Twitter as an information source during extreme weather events with his minute-by-minute coverage of the April 2011 tornado that devastated the Southeast.”

    Spann, who has over 143,000 followers on Twitter, is one of the most followed Alabama personalities on the website. During and after the 2011 tornados that ravaged Alabama, he utilized Twitter to help with warning and recovery efforts.

    Aside from his weather and news updates, Spann is also notorious for responding to those who reach out to him on the social media platform, as well as retweeting photos sent to him.

     

     

     

    Spann and his weather reports can be seen on television channel ABC 33/40 and online at his website, www.alabamawx.com. A full list of TIME’s best twitter feeds can be seen here.

  3. Rep. Barry Moore: Threats and Misrepresentation

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    Ala. Rep. Barry Moore (R – Coffee) is seen as one of the rising stars out of a class of freshman legislators who rode into office on the 2010 Republican wave. He was even recently labeled as the most conservative legislator in the state of Alabama by Cliff Sims, founder and publisher of political blog Yellowhammer News.

    Recently, information has come to light that Moore, owner of Barry Moore Industries, had a longstanding business relationship with Yellowhammer’s Sims prior to receiving this accolade, misrepresented his residence on an application to Enterprise Country Club in order  to receive a discount, and threatened the creation of 100 local jobs if his opponent did not withdraw from his house race.

    Threats Against Opposition Candidate

    One hundred jobs in Enterprise would be jeopardized if Josh Pipkin, candidate for State House District 91, did not withdraw his candidacy. That is what Alabama Rep. Barry Moore told Pipkin, according to records obtained by The Enterprise Ledger.

    “I’ve got to meet with the speaker the first part of the week, Josh, and he is furious,” Moore said in a text message. “These guys play dirty, man. And you don’t need to run right now.”

    The first recorded cell phone conversation between Moore and Pipkin occured June 22, 2013. It was one of multiple conversations the two had where Moore attempted to pressure Pipkin against running.

    “If you’ll give me your word that you’ll get out, when I meet with him next week, I’ll tell him [you’re] gonna get out but we need this deal for [you] to stay out,” Moore stated. “I promise you I’m telling you the truth. I will help you down the road. This is just not the time. We’ve got a lot at stake right now, and y’all aren’t making my job any easier.”

    When questioned by the Ledger on the validity of these conversations, Moore admitted they were his words, but stated they were “a long-running conversation …taken out of context for obviously political purposes.”

    As reported by the Southeast Sun, Enterprise State Community College was set to receive an unmanned, aerial systems program, and $2 million in State funds were to be used to purchase a building for it. The result would be 100 new, highly-skilled jobs for Enterprise.

    A full transcript of Moore’s conversation with Pipkin can be read at The Enterprise Ledger.

    Yellowhammer News Connection

    On November 26, 2013, Cliff Sims, founder and publisher of conservative political blog Yellowhammer News called Moore the most conservative legislator in the state of Alabama.

    “The vote that most illustrates Moore’s rock-ribbed conservatism occurred during the 2011 session,” Sims wrote. “A bill to extend unemployment benefits was passed overwhelmingly in the House by a vote of 94-1. The one ‘no’ vote? Barry Moore.”

    Sims and Rep. Moore’s ties go beyond the blog’s endorsement. Moore co-owns a Birmingham address with Sims as an investment. Sims did not disclose this information in the article published on Yellowhammer.

    “We own that property together,” Moore told Sweet Home Politics in a February interview. “I taught Cliff Sims Sunday school, offered him his first job.”

    Country Club Documents

    Moore applied for membership to the Enterprise Country Club and listed the Birmingham address on his application for an “out of town” payment plan. Moore’s official residency is 139 Club Way, Enterprise, Alabama 36330, according to the State’s website.

    barry_moore_enterprise_country_club_application

    A Birmingham member would receive a 50% discount on the $200 monthly rate charged to Enterprise members, according to a staff member at the club. This calculates to a $1,100 annual difference.

    Moore acknowledged the application, but stated that he “ended up paying for full membership.” Moore went on to say, “I’m only in Enterprise for about 6 months out of the year, and I don’t play golf. I only wanted the membership so my kids could use the pool, and so the Country Club suggested that if I had an another address, I could apply for out-of-town membership.”

    Enterprise Country Club manager Jennifer Dawkins confirmed that despite Moore’s application, he ended up paying the full membership fee. According to Moore, he is no longer a member.

    Lee County Grand Jury

    Multiple political insiders have stated they have seen Moore entering and exiting the courthouse in Lee County, where a special grand jury has been convened to investigate corruption and unethical behavior among elected officials. Yesterday, Rep. Greg Wren resigned from office and pleaded guilty to knowingly using his public office for personal gain.

    Wren accepted a plea agreement from the Attorney General’s office and has agreed to assist them in the ongoing investigation.

    Moore and Pipkin will square off in the Republican primary on June 3rd.

    UPDATED 10:20am Saturday, April 5. Information on the purchase of Rep. Moore’s home by Enterprise Electronics Corporation was removed after it was revealed that there were multiple evaluation reports evaluating the worth of Moore’s home higher than originally reporter. 

  4. Alabama Businessman Upends 40-Year-Old Campaign Law

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    A Hoover, Ala., businessman successfully challenged existing campaign contribution limits in the Supreme Court on Wednesday. Shaun McCutcheon, CEO of Coalmont Electrical Development, argued against the $123,200 cap on contributions an individual can give to all federal candidates, parties and PACs in a two-year election cycle.

    The 5-4 decision in McCutcheon v. Federal Election Commission rules that limits on the aggregate total of contributions donors can give to all candidates, committees and political parties are unconstitutional.

    The ruling removes 40-year-old contribution barriers to the country’s wealthiest donors, arguably affording them greater influence in federal elections.

    “The government has a strong interest, no less critical to our democratic system, in combatting corruption and its appearance,” Chief Justice Roberts states in the majority opinion. “We have, however, held that this interest must be limited to a specific kind of corruption — quid pro quo corruption — in order to ensure that the government’s efforts do not have the effect of restricting the First Amendment right of citizens to choose who shall govern them.”

    The decision is considered to be the most significant campaign-finance decision since the 2010 Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission ruling, which enabled corporations and unions to spend unlimited funds independently in order to influence elections.

    The decision split largely along ideological lines, with the court’s four most liberal justices offering a dissenting opinion.

    “Taken together with Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, today’s decision eviscerates our nation’s campaign finance laws, leaving a remnant incapable of dealing with the grave problems of democratic legitimacy that those laws were intended to resolve,” Justice Stephen Breyer writes.

    The decision does not affect the existing $2,600 limit a donor can give to an individual federal candidate in each primary and general election or the $32,400 limit that can go to a national party committee.

    McCutcheon is currently finance director of the Jefferson County Republican Executive Committee and chairman of Conservative Action Fund, a conservative Super PAC. McCutcheon argued in his suit against the Federal Election Commission that lifting the ban on aggregate contributions could help candidates and parties counter the influence of Super PACs.

  5. New Foundation Asks Ala. Lawmakers to Take Anti-Corruption Pledge

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    The Alabama Foundation for Limited Government has kicked off a statewide campaign asking incumbent elected officials and candidates for office to sign an anti-corruption pledge aimed at improving Alabama’s ethical climate.

    The Foundation has mailed its Anti-Corruption Pledge to every state senator, state representative and candidate for state house and senate.

    “The legislative leadership has done nothing to advance real ethics reform in the state,” former state senator and Foundation President John Rice said at a Montgomery press conference. “Public officials are receiving special treatment to attend football games, fundraisers are held during the session when legislators are on taxpayers’ dime, and legislators are conducting back-room deals with lobbyists. Letting them get away with this stops today.”

    The pledge includes:

    • Term limits for legislators
    • Restrictions on gifts like tickets to athletic events
    • A ban on becoming a lobbyist for two years after vacating a legislative position
    • Increased reporting for lobbyists
    • A ban on elected officials or their family members double-dipping by earning additional money from state agencies over which they have budget authority
    • A ban on pay-to-play schemes
    • A ban on former legislators working on state-funded projects they voted on as a legislator
    • A ban on state elected officials from raising campaign contributions while the legislature is in session

    At the Foundation’s press conference, Mr. Rice accused the legislative leadership of “blocking common sense ethics reform.”

    “The Alabama Anti-Corruption Pledge is long overdue. It is a document that will clean up the swamp that is Montgomery and in our state government,” he said.

    The Alabama Foundation for Limited Government launched www.alabamapledge.com where names of all who sign their Anti-Corruption Pledge will be posted. The Foundation will also periodically release the names of pledge-takers and those who ignore or refuse to sign the document.

  6. Rep. Greg Wren Resigns, Pleads Guilty to Ethics Violation

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    State Rep. Greg Wren (R – Montgomery) plead guilty in state district court today to a misdemeanor ethics charge for using his office for personal gain. According to court documents, Wren’s company, Wren & Associates, LLC, earned $8,000 monthly from RxAlly for consulting work. He issued a letter to the Clerk of the House of Representatives and Gov. Robert Bentley earlier today announcing his resignation, effective immediately.

    greg_wren_resignation_letter

    Last year, Wren attempted to alter the state General Fund Budget that would have effectively made his client, Bessemer-based American Pharmaceutical Cooperative Inc., the sole supplier of drugs for Medicaid patients in Alabama. ACPI is the parent company of RxAlly.

    Wren, 59, was a four-term veteran of the House, Chairman of the Joint Legislative Medicaid Committee, Chairman of the Joint Energy Committee, Vice-Chairman of the House Insurance Committee, Member of the House Ways and Means General Fund Committee, and serves as Chairman of the House Local Legislation Committee.

    “Upon further reflection, and after consultation with counsel, Wren decided to accept responsibility for his actions and provide truthful information to the State,” his plea agreement states.

    Alabama Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard’s company, Auburn Network, held a consulting contract with ACPI. Hubbard today declined to comment, stating he had seen Wren’s letter of resignation but that’s all he knew.

    Rumors have grown rampant since August 2013 that Hubbard and other legislators were the topic of a special grand jury convened in Lee County.

    Wren’s charge is a Class A Misdemeanor. He will receive 24 months probation and must pay $24,000 in restitution to the State General Fund.

  7. Foundation for Moral Law Intervenes in Alabama Same-Sex Marriage Suit

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    The mother of the David Fancher, the deceased partner of Paul Hard, has filed a motion to intervene in Hard v. Bentley — a lawsuit that challenges the validity of Alabama’s Marriage Protection Act and Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. Chief Judge William K. Watkins granted her motion earlier today stating, “Ms. Fancher has an interest in the ultimate result of this action by virtue of its effect upon the potential distribution of any wrongful death damages.”

    Pat Fancher, David’s mother, “is deeply disturbed that the death of her son David … is being used by Plaintiff Paul Hard to advance the cause of same-sex marriage which she strongly opposes,” according to the motion.

    Hard, a lifelong Alabamian and former Baptist Preacher, married his late husband Charles David Fancher in Massachusetts shortly after same-sex marriage was legalized there. In 2011, Fancher was killed in a car accident just north of Montgomery. Under current Alabama law, David Fancher’s estate will pass to his immediate family — in this case, his mother, Pat — rather than his husband.

    The Foundation for Moral Law filed the motion as a representative of Pat Fancher. The foundation is a tax-exempt 501(c)(3) organization headquartered in Montgomery, Ala. It was founded by sitting Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore.

    Kayla Moore, wife of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, currently serves as the organization’s president.

    “The Foundation, like Ms. Fancher and the majority of Alabamians, believes 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,” Kayla Moore said in a prepared statement. “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.”

    The Foundation for Moral Law will represent Ms. Fancher as the suit moves forward.

  8. Alabama House GOP Takes AEA Money, Documents Reveal

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    The Alabama Education Association (AEA) and other previously secret donors to the Alabama House Republican Conference have been revealed in documents obtained by the Center for Public Integrity (CPI).

    CPI received  the typically undisclosed documents from Rachel Adams, communications director for Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard.

    “[W]hen the Center for Public Integrity asked Rachel Adams … for a copy of the group’s most recent tax form, she provided a version that is typically only delivered to the Internal Revenue Service and includes contributor names and contribution amounts,” the organization reported.

    Among the 16 reported donors is the Alabama Education Association (AEA), which donated $5,000 to the conference. Alabama Republicans have condemned the AEA repeatedly since obtaining a supermajority in the state for the first time in over 100 years. Most recently, the Alabama Republican Party challenged at least three candidates’ access to the party ballot for taking money from the teachers union.

    Other donations include $5,000 from former Democrat Lt. Gov. Steve Windom’s lobbying firm, Steve Windom, LLC; $15,000 from Alabama Wholesale Beer Association PAC; $5,000 from Alabama Power Co.; and $5,000 from Trial Trust.

    A full list of donors is included below. The Alabama House Republican Conference received $100,000 from corporate, trade and other political organizations according to the report.

    Name: Location: Amount:
    Alabama Wholesale Beer Association PAC Montgomery, Ala. $15,000
    FedEx Corp. PAC Memphis, Tenn. $10,000
    Eli Lilly & Co. PAC Indianapolis, Ind. $7,500
    Alabama Education Association Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Alabama Power Co. Birmingham, Ala. $5,000
    Alabama Retail Association Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Alfa Mutual Insurance Co. Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Blue Cross and Blue Shielf of Alabama Birmingham, Ala. $5,000
    FGA PAC Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Franklin PAC Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Future PAC Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    JM Family Enterprises Inc. Deerfield Beach, Fla. $5,000
    Manufacture Alabama Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Medical Association of the State of Alabama Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Steve Windom, LLC Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Trial Trust Montgomery, Ala. $5,000
    Pfizer Inc. New York, N.Y. $2,500

    Source: Alabama House Republican Conference’s 2012 tax return; Center for Public Integrity review of voluntary corporate filings.

    Sweet Home Politics reached out to Speaker Hubbard’s Office but had not received a statement at of the time of publication.

  9. Media Watchdog Group Has Connections with Yellowhammer News

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    The media watchdog group named Alabama Citizens for Media Accountability (ACMA) that launched last month has ties with Yellowhammer News. The group’s goal is “exposing leftwing bias in the Alabama and national media,” according to the group’s Facebook page.

    ACMA’s executive director, Elizabeth Thames BeShears, is a 2012 graduate of the University of Alabama. A former policy analyst and grant coordinator for the Alabama Policy Institute, BeShears reports on Alabama media organizations who, in her view, are liberally biased and are attempting to misinform the Alabama public.

    “This is a group I started to hold media accountable. Conservatives and libertarians don’t feel like their voice is being heard,” BeShears said during a phone interview with SHP. “There’s so much of a bias, not only in how things are reported, but what gets picked up and what doesn’t that they’re getting discouraged.”

    The group’s website is registered to Cody Sharp of Sharp Guys Web Design, which also designed Yellowhammer News’ website, according to the Internet Corporation for Assigned Names and Numbers (ICANN).

    Cody Sharp connects Yellowhammer and Alabama Citizens for Media Accountability

    Sharp Guys Web Design connected to Yellowhammer News Blog

    “I don’t know who put the website together,” BeShears said. ACMA links directly to at least three images on Yellowhammer as of 3:00 PM on March 5.

    “Cliff and I are working on it together,” BeShears responded when questioned on the involvement of Yellowhammer News’ Cliff Sims. “Cliff is an old friend of mine and it’s something we’ve discussed doing for a while now. I’m at a time and point in my life where I have the freedom to do this kind of work, and Cliff has been helping me build an audience.”

    BeShears has written 21 pieces for Yellowhammer since January.

    ACMA is funded by the same types of individuals that would fund her former employer, Alabama Policy Institute, according to BeShears. The Institute refers to itself as a “non-partisan, non-profit research and education organization dedicated to the preservation of free markets, limited government and strong families.” She would not state who was funding the organization and said that she did not currently have access to AMCA’s finances.

    BeShears said that she plans to organize a 501(c)(4) entity for ACMA,  a special type of non-profit organization which can engage in direct political activity.

    “I want to be more of a bulldog about it,” BeShears said when discussing why she would not be organizing a more traditional 501(c)(3) which is non-political.

    BeShears confirmed that the website has paid for advertisements, but she declined to speak further.

  10. State of Alabama Sued Over Marriage Equality

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    The Southern Poverty Law Center announced today that it will bring suit against the State of Alabama challenging the constitutionality of Alabama’s prohibition against recognition of out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian Alabamians.

    SPLC’s lawsuit, on behalf of Alabamian Paul Hard, will be filed in federal court. Hard married his partner, Charles David Fancher, in Massachusetts, which passed a law granting same-sex marriage rights in 2004.

    Because Alabama does not legally recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states, Hard has been prohibited from receiving benefits from a wrongful death lawsuit after Fancher was killed in a 2011 car crash.

    “Alabama has created two classes of marriages within its borders and deemed one of those classes – marriages between people of the same sex – to be inferior to the other,” said David C. Dinielli, SPLC deputy legal director. “This is unconstitutional.”

    Hard, a lifelong Alabamian who once was a Baptist preacher, believes he will find support in fellow Alabamians.

    “Southerners are generally good-hearted people and will recognize when a person is being unfairly treated in life’s worst moments,” he said. “Most married couples take for granted that if tragedy strikes they can proceed through the worst of times without the state saying at every turn that their marriage doesn’t even exist. Marriages are significant, and my marriage is due the same respect as any other.”

    Equality Alabama, a statewide organization dedicated to advancing the rights of LGBT individuals in Alabama, applauded SPLC’s decision to take up this case.

    “Equality Alabama emphatically supports the freedom to marry as well as the SPLC’s lawsuit challenging Alabama’s prohibition against recognition of out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian Alabamians,” stated Ben Cooper, Equality Alabama’s Chairman. “Marriage is a fundamental freedom that should not be denied to anyone. We should protect such rights, not limit them.”

    The SLPC suit follows a pattern established recently in states such as Kentucky, where a federal judge struck down the state’s “traditional or faith-based limitation” of marriage. The ruling forces the state to recognize out-of-state marriages of gay and lesbian couples, but “does not deal with the question of whether the state can be required to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as that issue wasn’t brought up in the four lawsuits that triggered the ruling.”

    Speaker of the House Mike Hubbard responded to the lawsuit on Twitter.