State Supreme Court orders halt to same-sex marriage

Published 6:15 pm Wednesday, March 4, 2015

The Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday ordered probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state.

The order said Alabama law allows for “marriage” to be between only one man and one woman, “which it has done for two centuries.”

“Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law,” the order said. “Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”

On Feb. 8, 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 Feb. 9.

Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin was one of four probate judges named in the state Supreme Court order. Judges have been given five days to petition the court to allow them to resume issuing licenses.

In February, Martin and three other probate judges asked the Alabama Supreme Court to deny a request by the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program for an order banning them and others from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

While some probate judges in Alabama refused to issue any marriage licenses pending further clarification concerning their duty under the law, other probate judges including Martin started issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Marriage licenses were issued in Chilton County on Feb. 9, the order states.

Martin declined to comment about the order on Wednesday but did say his office was no longer issuing same-sex marriage licenses per the order from the Supreme Court.

As of noon on Wednesday, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC) said they were unable to confirm any Alabama counties issuing licenses to same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue in June.