Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order Wednesday directing Alabama’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
Last year the U.S. Supreme Court ruled in Obergefell vs. Hodges, that same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee, are unconstitutional, signaling what was widely assumed to be an end to such bans nationally.
But Moore’s order says otherwise.
He directs probate judges to refrain from issuing any marriage licenses that are “contrary” to Alabama’s Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act, which assert legal marriage can only be between a man and a woman.
The chief’s order says those laws remain in full force and effect until “further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court,” though he gives no timetable on when the court may take up the issue.
“Many probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in accordance with Obergefell; others are issuing marriage licenses only to couples of the opposite gender or have ceased issuing all marriage licenses,” Moore wrote in his order. “This disparity affects the administration of justice in this State. I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire Court which continues to deliberate on the matter.”
The order details the recent procedural history of same-sex marriage arguments in Alabama and in other states.
Moore says a recent opinion by the U.S. 8th Circuit Court of Appeals found the Supreme Court’s decision did not “directly invalidate marriage laws under its jurisdiction.” The 8th Circuit includes Arkansas, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota and South Dakota.