Same-Sex Marriage in Alabama: State Supreme Court issues order, muddies waters

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Friday’s ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court was clear, striking down bans on same-sex marriage in all 50 states. However, the Alabama Supreme Court stepped in Monday to issue a new order and muddy the legal waters.

As of Monday morning, more of the state’s 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to all couples.  In north Alabama, DeKalb, Jackson, Limestone and Madison counties were issuing marriage licenses.  Colbert, Franklin, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Marshall and Morgan counties each said they were still reviewing the Supreme Court’s order.

This, after the Association of County Commissions of Alabama sent a memo to probate judges recommending that they “follow the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court beginning at 10:00 a.m. [Monday].”

The group, which provides liability insurance to the judges, has provided informal advice during the twisting legal battle over gay marriage.  The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and other organizations have said that probate judges could be found in contempt of court if they refuse.

More developments

On Monday, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an order regarding the case in Alabama filed earlier this year by the Alabama Policy Institute and the Alabama Citizens Action Program.  The order invites parties in that case to write briefs to the Alabama Supreme Court by Monday, July 6 about the effect of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision, the one the U.S. Supreme Court ruled about on Friday.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has recused himself from the case, Al.com reports, but Moore says in effect, it keeps probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for 25 days.  He later backtracked.

“I am not real clear what it’s saying .. it’s very unclear,” Jefferson County Probate Judge Sherri Friday said to Al.com on Monday. At this moment, they are still issuing licenses to same-sex couples as her attorneys review the order.

Susan Watson, the head of the ACLU of Alabama, calls the order a stalling tactic. She says probate judges could face sanctions if they refuse the licenses.

Here is a link to read the order.