Ala. Chief Justice Roy Moore instructs probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses

BIRMINGHAM, Ala. (WIAT) — The State Chief Justice is ordering Alabama judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s Administrative Order comes several months after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down a ban on same-sex marriage.

We contacted multiple probate judges in different counties to find out how they planned to handle the conflicting commands.

The reaction varied from county to county. Some probate judges are suspending marriage license operations and others are moving forward as normal.

The January 6th, 2016 administrative order from Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore cites confusion among probate judges in the state and instructs them not to issue any marriage licenses in violation of Alabama’s Marriage Protection Act, until the Alabama Supreme Court makes a ruling.

The administrative order comes several months after a U.S. Supreme Court decision which ruled a ban on same sex marriage was unconstitutional.

A clerk at the Madison County Probate Court tells WIAT 42 News that their attorneys are reviewing Chief Justice Moore’s order and that the court is not issuing marriage licenses until they have clarification.

Jefferson County Probate Judge Alan King says he reviewed the order as well as their attorneys and they have decided to continue issuing marriage licenses to all couples.

“I don’t have a crystal ball. We’ve been following the law of the land for many, many months, and the administrative order does not change that,” said King.

Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin tells WIAT that he has read the administrative order, but plans to continue issuing marriage licenses to all couples.

I think I’m standing right now with the federal court order,” said Martin.

Eric Johnston of the Southeast Law Institute supports Moore’s position.

“In March our State Supreme Court issued a lengthy, scholarly opinion that upheld our marriage amendment and our marriage statute saying marriage is between one man and one woman. Then in June the U.S. Supreme Court in the Obergefell case ruled on a case from another state that that same, one man and one woman marriage law there was unconstitutional. It was not directly related to Alabama. We were not a part of that,” said Johnston.

“The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court has issued an administrative order, directing probate judges that they may not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision last year on marriage equality.  We have grave concerns about this order, which directs Alabama probate judges to disobey the ruling of the Supreme Court,” said U.S. Attorneys Joyce White Vance of the Northern District of Alabama and Kenyen Brown of the Southern District of Alabama in a statement. “Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not to disobey it. This issue has been decided by the highest court in the land and Alabama must follow that law.”

Read Judge Moore’s ruling here.

Copyright 2016 WIAT 42 News

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