By Julissa Catalan
On Monday, Alabama began issuing marriage licenses to same-gender couples after the U.S. Supreme Court denied a request to stay a federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s same-gender-marriage ban.
Alabama becomes the 37th state to legalize same-gender marriage.
“Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama’s marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer,” Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said.
The SCOTUS ruling comes after much protest by the state’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, who wrote a six-page letter ordering probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-gender couplesin other words, to abide by state law rather than the ruling of a federal court.
The letter was issued just hours before same-gender marriage was expected to become legal.
“Effective immediately, no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent” with a state law banning same-gender marriage, Moore wrote.
“I ask you to continue to uphold and support the Alabama Constitution with respect to marriage, both for the welfare of this state and for our posterity. Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority,” Moore said in a letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley.
Granade went on to clarify that her ruling applied to all cases statewide, not just the defendants in that specific case.
While same-gender couples were already marrying in cities like Birmingham and Montgomery, several counties throughout Alabama refused to issue licenses to same-gender couples, citing Moore’s order.
Autaga County Probate Judge Al Booth said, “I have the man who runs this state’s court system telling me not to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples. I have the federal judiciary telling me I will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
“I want to uphold my oath, but what law do I follow Which constitution do I uphold”
In a statement, state Attorney General Luther Strange said, “I regret the Supreme Court’s decision not to stay the Federal District Court’s ruling until the high court finally settles the issue this summer. In the absence of a stay, there will likely be more confusion in the coming months leading up to the Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage.”