Update on the Marriage Situation in Alabama

Update on the Marriage Situation in Alabama February 11, 2015

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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