Bill scrapping marriage licenses hits Alabama House after passing Senate

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) - This month, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue of same-sex marriage. It should settle a lot of questions once and for all. At least, that's the idea.

In Alabama, resistance to same-sex marriage continues.   We saw a weekend of rallies in favor of traditional marriage. Beyond that, we have legislation making its way through the house right now that could get rid of the entire institution of marriage as we know it in Alabama.

Right now, if you want to get married you go to the courthouse and the probate judge gives you a marriage license.

Attorney Jake Watson explains, "[SB377] does away with that and requires parties to enter into a contract and file it at the courthouse, as I understand it."

This alters the fundamental way we've approached marriage for a long time.

Watson continues, "It really does away with the traditional sense of a marriage certificate and what we've been dealing with in Alabama as far as marriage certificates for more than a hundred years, I believe."

The bill itself disposes of marriage certificates and replaces them with a contract that you file with the probate judge.

But that could add confusion for all kinds of folks who rely on marriage to prove a link to the federal government,  insurance companies or anyone else. Plus it would put up another barrier for same-sex marriage.

Watson elaborates, "A statement that the parties are legally authorized to be married, that's going to be the catch. What is legally authorized to be married? Under the State of Alabama Law, that would not include same-sex marriage."

If the Supreme Court orders all states to issues same-sex marriage licenses, Alabama could possibly argue that it doesn't issue any licenses, it just limits the contracts it accepts.

"This is going to put us back on track to possibly having the Supreme Court hear this," adds Watson, "But I think it's certainly going to end up in federal court."

The bill passed the Senate by a vote of 22-3. It's now in the House.  You can read the text of the bill here.