Alabama Bound explores the legal roller-coaster ride of LGBTQ family rights in the South over the last decade. The film offers an intimate view into the lives of three lesbian families in Alabama as they set precedents and fight the courts for their children during the time that federal marriage equality comes to a head. This is the story of a powerful community living with both frustration and hope in a conservative state, where the line between church and state is often blurred.
Cari and Kim fell in love, decided to make a life together, and have a family in Mobile, Alabama. 11 years ago, Kim gave birth to their son Khaya, who was born with a hole in his heart that required open-heart surgery. When the medical staff at the hospital refused to train Cari in how to care for her son because they did not recognize her as a parent, she knew she had to fight to protect her family. Cari and Kim are not activists by choice.
Kinley married her male childhood best friend when she was quite young. They had a child together before she came out. She could not afford legal representation in her divorce and lost custody of her son to her ex-husband and his new wife. When Kinley’s son called her in tears after having been whipped by his stepmother, Kinley felt compelled to try to regain custody. After taking her son to the emergency room, Kinley was granted temporary custody by DHR. She and her wife soon found their marriage on trial in a lengthy custody fight in family court where Kinley lamented, “the judges here prefer to give a child back to an abusive parent or step-parent instead of a lesbian.”
The only openly-gay Alabama State Legislator, Patricia Todd, is a champion for non-discrimination laws that protected LGBTQ citizens from losing their jobs for their sexual orientation. Patricia originally ran for election after testifying at a searing committee meeting about same-sex marriage in the State Capitol in 2005. She felt that nothing would change until an LGBTQ representative sat at the table with the decision-makers in the state.
Even though marriage became settled law in 2015, Alabama's LGBTQ families remain in jeopardy. Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore led the charge to reject the federal rulings recognizing same-sex equality. Judge Moore ordered probate judges, who report to him, to stop issuing marriage licenses rather than grant them to same sex couples. Lawmakers continue to introduce bills that would authorize discrimination in marriage licensing and adoption.
Alabama is one of 28 other states across the country where there are no legal protections for LGBTQ citizens from losing their job, housing, or access to public accommodations. On May 3, 2017, Alabama Governor Kay Ivey signed a bill into law making it legal for private adoption agencies to follow faith-based policies— such as not placing children with gay couples. While much of the nation has moved toward LGBTQ equality, many states have become bound in conflict, and families that call these states home have suffered.