Many counties follow Ala. Supreme Court’s ruling to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

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TENNESSEE VALLEY (WHNT) – Many Alabama counties are changing their tune in regards to issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.  This, following a ruling Tuesday by the Alabama Supreme Court ordering them to stop the procedure.

WHNT News 19 is checking with counties in north Alabama.  We’ve learned Madison County has changed course.  It was one of the first to issue licenses to all couples on the first day gay marriage was legal in Alabama.  However, Probate Judge Tommy Ragland said Wednesday based on advice from the county attorney, Ragland’s office will cease issuing licenses to same-sex couples.  It will issue them to traditional couples, though.

Ragland was one of four probate judges named in the order specifically, saying they had five days to respond.  The other probate judges are in Chilton, Jefferson and Montgomery counties.

Lauderdale, Franklin, DeKalb and Jackson Counties are doing the same as Madison, only issuing license to male and female couples.  Marshall County is not issuing licenses to any couples for the time being.

WHNT News 19 is checking with other counties around north Alabama for updates.

Statewide, Mobile County’s probate court posted a notice on its website Wednesday saying it is halting all marriages while it reviews the decision.  The announcement doesn’t say how long that review might take.  A federal judge had previously ordered Mobile County’s probate judge to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The all-Republican Alabama Supreme Court sided with a pair of conservative groups Tuesday night and ordered Alabama’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.  We’ve posted the 148-page ruling.

One of the conservative groups, The Alabama Policy Institute, issued this statement:

“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.”

Several groups who support gay marriage, including Equality Alabama and the American Civil Liberties Union, plan to release statements Wednesday.