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Same sex marriage licenses delayed in northwest Alabama

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Couples line up in the Lauderdale County Probate Judges office to apply for marriage licenses. (Carter Watkins - WHNT)

FLORENCE, Ala. (WHNT) – In northwest Alabama, same sex couples began gathering outside the Lauderdale County Courthouse Monday morning to get their marriage licenses.  As soon as the doors opened, couples were met with another development on what they describe as an emotional roller-coaster.

Beth Ridley and Rose Roysden were one of several same sex couples who couldn’t wait for the doors of the courthouse to open.  Ridley and Roysden have been together for five years and they wanted this to be the day they tie the knot.

“Initially I thought it was just a piece of paper, and we would wait several days and stuff,” Ridley stated. “Then the closer it got, I didn’t want to wait.”

Lauderdale County Probate Judge James Hall addressed the crowd of applicants as they formed lines inside his office.

“Right now there is a conflict of law,” Judge Hall explained. “I am doing the research this morning to resolve the conflict and we’ll find out just exactly where we stand at this point.”

Following the guidance of Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, probate judges in Lauderdale, Colbert, and Franklin counties refused to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.  However, they allowed the couples to fill out the paperwork.

Rose Roysden said she kind of expected the delay. “It’s been up and down, emotions have been crazy. Not knowing is mainly the thing that has been weighing on us,” she said.

As they left the Lauderdale County Courthouse, the two said they planned to go to Jefferson County because they didn’t want to wait any longer to marry.  Jefferson County was one of only a handful of the state’s 67 counties to grant marriage licenses to all couples, gay or straight, on Monday.

Probate judges in Lauderdale, Colbert, and Franklin counties said once they are given clarity on their roles in issuing same sex marriage licenses, they will abide by the law.

To be fair across the board, the three Probate Judge offices did not issue traditional marriage licenses on Monday either.

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