Gay marriage update, homeless census and National Drug Facts Week

Jan 29, 2015

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

The Alabama Probate Judges Association has dramatically reversed course in the fight for marriage equality in Alabama.

That judges' group now says gay couples may apply for and be given marriage licenses once the hold is removed from a federal order overturning Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage. The Probate Judges Assocation was previously encouraging Alabama's probate justices to deny marriage licenses for same-sex couples as long as possible.

No same-sex marriage licenses can be awarded as long as U.S. District Judge Callie Granade's ruling is on hold. But provided the State of Alabama's appeal attempt is unsuccessful, local judges will begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples on February 9th.

If it stands, Granade's ruling will make Alabama the 37th state in the U.S. to permit gay marriage.

The effort to count Alabama’s homeless continues this week.

The Homeless Care Council of Northwest Alabama is conducting its homeless census starting today through Sunday. The effort will focus on the homeless in Lauderdale, Colbert, Franklin, Winston, Marion, and Lawrence Counties.

Project coordinator Krista Manchester says it’s a good opportunity for average citizens in Alabama to better understand the issue of homelessness in the state.

“Even if you don’t see them, if they’re not on the streets, we do have a homeless population. And [we want to] help people to understand why people are homeless, the reasons that cause that, and some of the ways we can help them.”

The survey will ask the respondents where they plan to spend the night tonight and Friday night. The city of Montgomery began its homeless census earlier this week.

This week is National Drug Facts Week and Alabama drug use prevention groups are holding events to get teenagers away from smoking, drugs and alcohol.

Figures from the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services say marijuana use among teens in Alabama is down about six percent in 2013 compared to the previous survey in 2011.

Dr. Wilson Compton is Deputy Director of the National Institute on Drug Abuse. He says residents need to band together to figure out the problem spots in their community and how to discuss them with teenagers.

“Each community will have a different set of local issues. And, by putting community experts and local activists together, they can begin in make a dent in these from a policy and an intervention practices.”

The Substance Abuse Partnership in Dothan and Houston County is sponsoring a discussion group today. Wenonah High School in Birmingham will be holding a student chat tomorrow.

A steel processing plant just outside Birmingham is warning employees that layoffs may be on the way.

U.S. Steel recently announced an adjustment in their operations due to a downturn in the energy market. A company spokesperson told the press that employees to be laid off will be informed around March 29.

Employees at a plant in Lone Star, Texas are also in danger. Company officials say more than 1,900 employees between the two plants in Texas and Birmingham may be laid off.

The president of Birmingham's local United Steelworkers Union says local union officials plan to meet with company representatives in Pittsburgh soon to discuss the proposed staff reduction.