Same-sex marriage licenses available again

Published 4:52 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2015

After a chaotic day surrounding the status of gay marriages in Alabama on Monday, the Chilton County Probate Office said on Tuesday they will now abide by the order of a federal judge.

As of mid-morning on Tuesday, Probate Judge Bobby Martin said his office would issue marriage licenses to any couple, including heterosexual and same-sex couples.

“Right now, it is looking like I need to be following the federal court order which struck down a ban on gay marriage in Alabama,” Martin said.

Martin admits the issue has been confusing the last couple of days with many unsure of what should be done.

Some probate offices in Alabama stopped issuing marriage licenses altogether while some offices chose to issue the licenses to same-sex and heterosexual couples on Monday.

On Sunday night, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order stating that all probate judges and employees in Alabama must follow existing state law and not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or recognize same sex-marriages.

Moore’s order followed a decision from U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade who ruled that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional.

A stay was issued on Granade’s ruling that put the ruling on hold until Monday.

Amid the confusion between the state and federal orders, Martin issued one marriage license at 8 a.m. Monday to a same-sex couple from Chilton County, who later held a wedding ceremony at Clanton Downtown Corner Park.

Shortly after issuing the license, Martin’s office decided to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples until figuring out how the office should proceed.

“We just didn’t know,” Martin said on Tuesday. “We still don’t know, but we are trying to abide by the law.”

Martin said no other same-sex couples came to the courthouse on Monday trying to get a marriage license. There were also no heterosexual couples that applied for a marriage license on Monday.

“It has been a mess,” Martin said referring to the status of gay marriage in Alabama.

Although Martin’s office will now issue marriage licenses to anyone interested, his office has not changed on the decision to stop performing wedding ceremonies.

Martin made the decision to stop performing wedding ceremonies on Feb. 3.

“The law says I have to issue the licenses, but the law does not say I have to perform the ceremonies,” Martin said.

For now, Martin said his office is working to comply with the law and hopes the confusion surrounding gay marriage will be straightened out.

“It is hard to know right now what to do,” Martin said. “There is a lot of information being thrown out right now with not a lot of answers.”