State Supreme Court orders stop to same-sex marriage licenses

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Photo: MGN Online

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (WHNT) – The Supreme Court of Alabama issued a ruling late Tuesday halting the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.

The move comes less than a month after same-sex marriage licenses were first issued in the state. In February, a federal court decision in Mobile County had cleared the path for same-sex marriages to begin in the state.

The 134-page order Wednesday was supported by six justices. One dissented and another concurred to most of the opinion and in total to the result.

Marriage is between one man and one woman under Alabama law, the order states.

“Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty,” it says.

Probate judges have five business days to respond to the order if they don’t think they are bound to uphold it.

“Same-sex couples in #Alabama should not lose hope because of out-of-step Supreme Court ruling; #marriage fight is far from over. #ALMarriage,” tweeted Equality Alabama.

The Liberty Counsel, which filed an emergency petition to the state’s Supreme Court said on its website that “the ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court offers the most forceful and clearly articulated rebuttal to date of the imaginative arguments for same-sex “marriage” employed by federal courts.”

In his dissent, Justice Greg Shaw wrote that he didn’t think the case was properly filed nor did the court have jurisdiction. He also said the public interest groups involved in the case cannot sue in Alabama’s name.

Shaw added that the federal courts should have stayed an order striking down Alabama’s marriage law until the U.S. Supreme Court rules on it this fall.

Madison County Probate Judge Tommy Ragland is one of four respondents named in the ruling.

Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama, said, “Our legal team is currently reviewing the Alabama Supreme Court’s decision very carefully and we will issue a prepared statement tomorrow.”

To read the full 148 page ruling, click here.

The Alabama Policy Institute released the following statement:

‘[Tuesday], the Alabama Supreme Court granted our request for a writ of mandamus directing Alabama’s probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses in violation of Alabama’s Constitution. The ongoing confusion caused by the federal court’s action in January needed to be clarified in a formal opinion by the State’s highest court and the Alabama Policy Institute was well-suited to pursue such a remedy. This decision by the Alabama Supreme Court finally, in the words of Justice Scalia, gives the people of Alabama the respect that they deserve by preserving our law until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves the issue. The sanctity of marriage—an institute that has always been reserved for the states—is a cause worth fighting for, for as long as the States still have their rightful say in the matter.’

*CNN contributed to this report