Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore makes 11th-hour move, ordering probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples

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HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WHNT) – Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore made an 11th-hour move in the ongoing legal battle regarding same-sex marriage in Alabama.

Moore issued an order late Sunday night telling state probate judges to refuse to issue or recognize marriage licenses for same-sex couples.

A federal judge cleared the way for same-sex marriages in Alabama last month.  However, the judge issued a stay on her decision until February 9.

That same judge refused to extend the stay beyond that date, despite an appeal from Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange.

Click here to read Moore’s order in its entirety.

Here is an excerpt from Moore’s order:

Effective immediately, no Probate Judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license
that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.

The order goes on to indicate Governor Robert Bentley has the “supreme executive power” to ensure the laws of the state of Alabama are being followed.

The impact of Moore’s order is unsure at this time.  One civil rights attorney says probate judges will have a big decision to make come Monday morning.

The Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement in response to Moore’s order.

The statement from SPLC President Richard Cohen reads in part:

“…But, instead of respecting these rulings, the Chief Justice has decided to create a crisis in our state but telling the probate judges to ignore the ruling of the district court and threatening them with unspecified gubernatorial action.  It’s outrageous.  We urge the probate judges to follow the Constitution of the United States and issue marriage licenses when their offices open in the morning.  Chief Justice Moore has no authority to tell them to do otherwise.”

The United States Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on this matter in April.  A ruling is expected in June.


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