Same-sex marriages allowed in Franklin County
Same-sex marriage in Alabama is still causing controversy and confusion one week after a ruling from the Supreme Court stated that probate judges in all 67 counties could issue the licenses.
The United States Supreme Court refused a request on Feb. 9 from the Alabama Attorney General to keep a hold on issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The state requested the hold be kept in place until the Supreme Court made its final ruling on the matter later in the year. That ruling is expected to come during the summer hearings by the court.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange expressed regret on Feb. 9 over the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision not to grant the State of Alabama’s motion for a stay of the January 23, 2015, U.S. District Court ruling striking down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban.
“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,” said Attorney General Strange. “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.
“With the lifting of the 14-day stay on Feb. 9, 2015, the U.S. District Court order remains in effect, enjoining me from enforcing Alabama’s laws against same-sex marriage in my official capacity as Attorney General.
This meant that all 67 of Alabama’s counties were open to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, however, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore came out with a statement on Feb. 8 instructing probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples despite the ruling from the federal court.
And then the confusion arrived.
Early last week there were counties that shut down issuing marriage licenses entirely. There were counties who still refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and there were counties who moved ahead with issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. There were also those, such as Franklin County, that were accepting applications for all marriage licenses, but were holding off on issuing any of the actual licenses until everything was clarified.
The Attorney General attempted to clarify his office’s stance and directive to probate judges.
“To clarify my authority in this matter, the Alabama Attorney General’s Office does not issue marriage licenses, perform marriage ceremonies, or issue adoption certificates. The Chief Justice has explained in a public memorandum that probate judges do not report to me. I advise probate judges to talk to their attorneys and associations about how to respond to the ruling. Furthermore, I encourage any state agencies with questions about the ruling in Searcy and Strawser to contact the Governor’s Office.”
By Feb. 13 some clarification started to come to the issue after a federal court ruled that a Mobile County probate judge could not deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After the ruling more counties began issuing licenses to everyone and by the end of Friday a total of 50 of the 67 counties allowed same-sex marriage.
But conservative groups and Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore still argued that issues of states’ rights were at hand.
According to officials, Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program have filed petitions with the Alabama Supreme Court to be heard this week. The two groups, opposed to same-sex marriage, are requesting that the Alabama law banning same-sex marriage be upheld.