Some Alabama Counties Still Defying Marriage Ruling

Some Alabama Counties Still Defying Marriage Ruling July 3, 2015

On Wednesday, the district court judge in Alabama made clear that the state of Alabama must follow the Supreme Court’s ruling in the marriage case immediately, but there are still a few counties defying that order, whether because they’re confused or just obstinate.

Yes, Alabama’s probate judges have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a federal judge in Mobile clarified on Wednesday.

But at least six counties are holding out. Probate offices in Elmore County, Tuscaloosa County, and Escambia County are not issuing the same-sex marriage licenses. And, the probate offices in Randolph County, Colbert County, and Lauderdale County are not issuing any marriage licenses.

Explaining their actions, many of these probate office officials cited Alabama Supreme Court Chief Roy Moore’s controversial claim that no probate judge has to issue a same-sex marriage license for 25 days during a rehearing period for the U.S. Supreme Court decision…

In May, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade ordered all 68 probate judges to issue same-sex marriage licenses after she struck down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban four months earlier. But she delayed it pending the high court’s decision.

The temporary order took effect immediately following the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision to legalize gay marriage on June 26.

In a filing on Wednesday, civil rights organizations representing multiple same-sex couples asked Granade to clarify whether her order was immediately binding upon the high court’s decision. It was, Granade said.

I feel bad for the probate judges here. They’re stuck between a rock and a hard place, with federal courts giving them one order and the Alabama Supreme Court giving them the opposite order. The real question will be whether that Alabama high court will issue a final order saying that local officials cannot follow the federal court’s orders. If that happens, there’s a full-blown constitutional crisis. I’m not going to be at all surprised if that’s what they do.

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