Same-sex marriage debate: Federal vs. state rulings


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TENNESSEE VALLEY (WHNT) – There were new developments Tuesday in the fight over same-sex marriage in Alabama.  Some counties that initially decided to ignore a federal ruling to issue same-sex marriage licenses, flipped the switch and begin issuing them.

“Alabama has a long history of saying no to the federal government,” said Huntsville attorney George Flowers.  “Historically that tactic doesn’t work.  Typically the federal government wins these arguments hands down.”

Even though a federal court ruled same-sex marriage could begin in Alabama on Monday, not everybody was on the same page.

“The chief justice issued an order, ordering the probate courts of Alabama to not issue marriage licenses for gay couples,” explained Flowers.

Flowers said the order from Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore created confusion among probate judges across the state.

“Probate courts in Alabama are stuck between a rock and a hard place right now.  Do they disobey the federal court or do they disobey the Chief Justice?” said Flowers.

Tuesday, more Alabama counties chose to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.  Flowers says he believes counties who are listening to the federal orders are following a basic principle of law known as the Supremacy Clause.

“When there is a conflict in constitutional authority between the federal and the state, it is the federal authority that takes precedent,” said Flowers.

The ultimate ruling on the issue is expected from the U.S. Supreme Court later this year.

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