Update on the Marriage Situation in Alabama

Tuesday was the second day that same-sex marriage was legal in Alabama due to a federal court order, but the actions of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore and a bunch of probate judges has created a big mess. Things are very fluid, but here’s the latest as of the time I’m writing this.

The number of counties issuing marriage licenses to gay couples is growing. At about 4 pm, Freedom to Marry reported that 22 counties were now issuing licenses. More and more county probate judges are opting to issue licenses and I expect that in another few days, only a small, hardcore group of judges will continue to refuse to do so.

Americans United and other groups have already gone to court to force the counties to do so and the plaintiffs in the federal court case that overturned the ban on same-sex marriage have filed a motion asking the judge to hold those county probate judges in contempt for refusing to follow the order. If the judge grants that motion, then the pressure on those judges is turned up enormously. The only ones who will continue to refuse to do so at that point will be the Roy Moore clones who are out to make themselves into martyrs. There’s a hearing on Thursday on that motion.

Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is trying to stay firmly on the fence, saying that he will support those probate judges whether they issue licenses or refuse to do so:

“I think it’s up to the individual probate judges to make the decisions for themselves on what they’re going to do because they’re elected officials, they’re constitutional officers, so they have to make up their mind what they should do in their area.”

Totally unsurprising. It’s a no-win situation for him.

And in an odd story, a woman was arrested for offering to perform a same-sex wedding for a couple that had obtained a license in that county, but the judge was refusing to perform any weddings. The woman apparently refused to leave and was arrested on disorderly conduct charges.

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  • http://en.uncyclopedia.co/wiki/User:Modusoperandi Modusoperandi

    the Roy Moore clones

    Didn’t they play on The Lawrence Welk Show?

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    About the minister who was arrested. I read a summary and it seems like she was insisting on holding the ceremony in the judge’s chambers — I’m not sure that she really has a leg to stand on in that case. Freedom and all that doesn’t mean that you can do what you want, where you want. It didn’t sound like she was arrested for trying to marry a gay couple, she was arrested for misbehaving in a courtroom.

    I hate intentional martyrs, even ones whose ideals I agree with.

  • http://howlandbolton.com richardelguru

    There is a great political cartoon on the subject

    http://www.gocomics.com/jeffdanziger/2015/02/10

    Nails it perfectly

  • colnago80

    Re ArtK @ #2

    If the woman is an ordained minister, she can perform marriages on the sidewalk in front of the courthouse. Sounds like grandstanding to me.

  • Synfandel

    Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley is trying to stay firmly on the fence, saying that he will support those probate judges whether they issue licenses or refuse to do so…

    Totally unsurprising. It’s a no-win situation for him.

    It also shows due respect for the separation of the executive and judicial powers. It would be irresponsible of the governor to do otherwise.

  • D. C. Sessions

    The woman apparently refused to leave and was arrested on disorderly conduct charges.

    Someone slipped up — she’s still alive?

  • John Pieret

    The Alabama flap is worrisome in another way. Justice Ginsburg has expressed reservations about the court having moved too quickly in Roe v. Wade, before the country was ready for it. It’s pretty certain Kennedy feels the same way. If this can’t be settled quickly and without too much strife between the state and Federal governments, it could impact the Supreme Court’s decision on SSM.

  • http://ahcuah.wordpress.com/ ahcuah

    @7. The Supreme Court has already decided; they just haven’t officially told us yet (despite the hint from Thomas). Yes, I suppose it’s possible (maybe even likely) that this could affect the wording of the opinion currently being written, but it will almost assuredly not change the result (though I guess that it is remotely possible it could make a Justice change his/her vote).