Justice’s gay marriage order halts licenses in parts of Alabama

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Roy Moore, forever known as Alabama's Ten Commandments judge, has been re-elected chief justice in a triumphant political resurrection after being ousted from that office nearly a decade ago. By Kim Chandler.

Roy Moore, forever known as Alabama's Ten Commandments judge, has been re-elected chief justice in a triumphant political resurrection after being ousted from that office nearly a decade ago. By Kim Chandler.

Federal prosecutors in Alabama said probate judges should issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite being told otherwise by the state’s chief justice, but at least two counties on Thursday stopped giving out the licenses altogether.

U.S. Attorneys Joyce White Vance and Kenyen Brown said they had grave concerns about Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore’s order because it advised the state’s probate judges to disobey a U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide last year.

“Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not to disobey it,” the prosecutors said in a statement. “This issue has been decided by the highest court in the land and Alabama must follow that law.”


RELATED STORY: Alabama chief justice defies Supreme Court gay marriage ruling


Moore said in an administrative order on Wednesday that Alabama judges were bound by the state Supreme Court’s ruling last March halting same-sex marriage until that court determines the effect of the national ruling on the state.

Gay marriage supporters denounced Moore’s order and predicted it would be ignored.

But at least a couple of county probate judges stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether as a way to comply with the conflicting court rulings.

Marriage licenses were halted for all couples, same-sex or otherwise, in Mobile County, according to that office’s website. Elmore County took the same step, a staff member there said.

Madison County Probate Judge Tommy Ragland said his office in Huntsville stopped giving marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Wednesday but resumed handing them out a day later after the county attorney approved it.

“We have a chief justice who is confused,” Ragland said.

(Reporting by Colleen Jenkins)

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  • Larry

    In essence, some judges are using Moore’s illegal and unfounded ruling as an excuse to avoid compliance with the Supreme Court. There are others who have told Moore to stuff it and faced no consequences whatsoever. This is merely a ploy by elected judges of the state to curry favor with ultra-conservatives who want to prevent gay marriages by foul means. Kind of how the same state reacted when segregation was shot down by the Supreme Court.

  • Ben in oakland

    So now, some justices in Alabama are refusing to marry anyone. I’m sure they hope that heterosexuals, who now are experiencing a little bit of what we gay people experience, will blame gay people for the inconvenience, rather than religious bigotry and far- right idiocy.

    so, hello heterosexual people who thought they would be getting married today! Do you see how corrosive this bigotry is?

    We gay people are routinely blamed for some mythical attempt to mythically destroy hetero marriage. Meanwhile, of course, Moore is trying to stop people from getting married. So, who is it that is trying to destroy marriage?

  • G Key

    I believe the Golden Rule means respecting others’ personal boundaries, beliefs, belongings, bedrooms, bodies, and business — not to mention rights and equality — as I would have others respect my own.

    If I opposed a couple’s marriage, the question of whether to sign their license (or sell them flowers, or cater their party) would answer itself, because I would realize they are my rightful public customers, not my wrongful private subjects. As for morality, since they are my equals, and since their beliefs, values, etc., are their own, it would be immoral for me to to judge their lives or try to hold them to my own chosen moral principles.

    In other words, I see the “religious freedom” issue as a matter of trespass, not of faith.

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