Federal judge: Alabama probate judges can’t discriminate against same-sex couples

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BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (AP) — A federal judge says Alabama counties must abide by the Supreme Court’s decision allowing gay marriage.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade in Mobile issued an order Wednesday updating a previous ruling in favor of same-sex marriage in Alabama.

Granade says state probate judges can’t discriminate against gay couples because the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled gay marriage is legal everywhere. But her order doesn’t affect counties that have stopped issuing all marriage licenses.

Judge Granade had put previous decisions on hold to allow time for the justices to rule.

Granade’s order came at the request of groups representing gay couples across Alabama.

Many Alabama counties still aren’t issuing same-sex marriage licenses despite the Supreme Court decision.

A message posted on the Colbert County marriage license office (Photo: Catherine Awasthi/WHNT News 19)

A message posted on the Colbert County marriage license office (Photo: Catherine Awasthi/WHNT News 19)

In Colbert County Wednesday, Probate Judge Daniel Rosser closed the marriage license office, not issuing any marriage licenses to any couples. Rosser reopened the office Wednesday afternoon, saying, “This morning, Federal Judge Granade ordered all Alabama Probate Judges to begin issuing marriage license [sic.] Despite my personal beliefs, as a defendant under the jurisdiction of the Federal Court, I am compelled to fully reopen the Colbert County marriage license office at this time. I continue to await an Attorney Genera’s opinion on this matter.”

One county away, the Lauderdale County probate judge also reversed a decision to issue marriage licenses Wednesday. Probate Judge Will Motlow said, “After reviewing today’s order from the Federal District Court, I have made the decision to begin issuing marriage licenses, but I will not be performing any ceremonies. I strongly disagree with the Supreme Court’s opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges and I continue to believe in traditional marriage. However, I took an oath to follow the law. That is what I have been doing, am doing now, and will continue to do as the Probate Judge of Lauderdale County.”

As of Wednesday afternoon, all north Alabama probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to all couples.

The Alabama Supreme Court has further muddied the issue by granting time for gay marriage opponents to voice their opinion.