Alabama chief justice walks back remarks on same-sex marriage

Supreme Court, Same Sex Marriage, Equal Rights
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Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is walking back previous remarks implying that a new court order will delay same-sex marriages in the state for 25 days.

Same-sex marriage advocates had argued that the order has no tangible effects thanks to a federal injunction.

{mosads}In May, a federal judge ruled that the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional and stayed her opinion until the Supreme Court ruled on the issue. Moore initially told the Alabama Media Group that the state court’s order Monday for a hearing within 25 days would effectively table Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court decision legalizing gay marriage.

“What the order means is that within that 25-day period no [probate judge] has to issue a marriage license to a same sex couple,” Moore said.

In a later statement, Moore said the order only calls for motions or briefs “addressing the effect of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.”

“In no way does the order instruct probate judges of this State as to whether or not they should comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell,” he said.

Moore has been an outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage. He told CNN in February that he would disregard an “unlawful mandate” by the Supreme Court legalizing same-sex unions. And he added during a speech at an Alabama church on Sunday that Christians “are going to be persecuted,” according to the Associated Press.

Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union’s Alabama branch, told The Hill that probate judges are now under an injunction to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they are issuing them to heterosexual couples. So the Alabama court’s orders do not apply.

Moore is “just kicking and screaming and pitching a fit and trying to slow down marriage,” she said.

“He can ask for a rehearing all he wants, and the Alabama Supreme Court has the right to do that, but what’s different in Alabama is, we have a federal court judge who said as soon as the Supreme Court rules, her stay would be lifted,” she said.

Conservative states are grappling with Friday’s U.S. Supreme Court ruling.

Some have backed down and will abide by the decision, which ruled there’s a constitutional right to marriage for same-sex couples.

Others are resisting, including Texas, where state Attorney General Ken Paxton said clerks can refuse to issue a marriage licenses to same-sex couples on religious grounds but could face a lawsuit or fine.

In Alabama, Watson said some probate judges have dropped out of issuing marriage licenses all together in order to comply with the order and still not have to issue licenses to same-sex couples. She’s only heard of one probate judge in the state that is currently flouting that injunction.

This story was updated at 4:26 p.m.


Tags Alabama Gay Marriage Roy Moore Same-sex marriage Supreme Court Susan Watson
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