Local probate office waiting on review of Supreme Court same-sex marriage ruling

Published 3:14 pm Friday, June 26, 2015

Chilton County Probate Judge Bobby Martin’s office will wait until Monday at 10 a.m. to decide how to proceed after Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

“My attorney is reviewing the ruling today,” Martin said on Friday morning. “He is going to look it over and digest it, see what it says, and get back with me on Monday as to how we should proceed. But, I can say that we will follow the law.”

Martin said there were no same-sex couples that came to his office Friday morning trying to get a marriage license.

“Right now, I am just waiting until my attorney can read the ruling and we can figure out what to do next,” Martin said.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade ruled earlier this year that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

A stay was issued on Granade’s ruling that put the ruling on hold until Feb. 9.

On Feb. 9, Martin’s office issued one marriage license to a same-sex couple, but Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an order late Feb. 8 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.

The dispute left Martin’s office unsure of what to do, and Martin said at the time that due to Alabama recognizing marriage as being between a man and a woman, it was his understanding that heterosexual couples could still apply for marriage licenses.

Since that time, Martin’s office has not been issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but has been issuing them to heterosexual couples.

His office no longer performs wedding ceremonies—a decision Martin made in February.

On Friday, Gov. Robert Bentley released a statement on the same-sex marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court.

“I have always believed in the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman,” Bentley said in a release. “That definition has been deeply rooted in our society for thousands of years. Regardless of today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, I still believe in a one man and one woman definition of marriage. The people of Alabama also voted to define marriage as between a man and woman. I always respect the people’s vote, and I am disappointed that the Supreme Court has disregarded the choice made by the people of Alabama in its decision today.”

Human Rights Campaign Alabama State Director Patricia Todd described the 5-4 vote by the U.S. Supreme Court as a “momentous” day for the LGBT community, both in Alabama and nationwide.

“After months of turmoil, justice has won out,” Todd said in a release. “Couples in Alabama have waited too long for this day, and we call on Gov. Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange and all officials in our state to ensure that this ruling is fully implemented at every level immediately.”

Strange also provided a response to the ruling by saying the Supreme Court overturned centuries of tradition, and the will of the citizens of a majority of the states in declaring that Alabama and the rest of the nation must legally recognize same-sex marriage.

“Chief Justice (John) Roberts agreed with our amicus brief that ‘a State’s decision to maintain the meaning of marriage that has persisted in every culture throughout human history can hardly be called irrational.’ While I do not agree with the opinion of the majority of the justices in their decision, I acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is now the law of the land,” Strange said in a release. “Short of the passage of a Constitutional Amendment protecting marriage as between one man and one woman, the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say. But while the states are now required to recognize same-sex marriage, I expect the focus will now turn to the exercise of one’s religious liberty. I will continue to defend the religious liberties of Alabamians and ensure that people and businesses honoring their religious beliefs are protected.”