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Probate judge: County continues to issue same-sex marriage licenses

Although some might have wondered what would happen, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s recent order urging state probate judges to cease the issue of marriage licenses to same-sex couples has not had any impact locally.

Jan. 6, Moore released a statement in which he reviewed all recent court action regarding same-sex marriage in the state of Alabama in recent months.

“On March 3, 2015 the Alabama Supreme Court issued a lengthy opinion upholding the constitutionality … (“the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment”), and … (“the Marriage Protection Act”), which both state: “Marriage is inherently a unique relationship between a man and a woman,” Moore’s statement begins before going on to rehash the details of the United States Supreme Court’s actions in Obergefell vs. Hodges.

“I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court,” his statement reads. “That issue remains before the entire Court, which continues to deliberate on the matter. Nevertheless, recent developments of potential relevance since Obergefell may impact this issue. The United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit recently ruled that Obergefell did not directly invalidate the marriage laws of states under its jurisdiction.”

His final words read: Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect.”

But in Franklin County, Probate Judge Barry Moore said the chief justice’s state was not conclusive or compelling. He – and to his knowledge, other probate judges throughout the state in their respective counties – are continuing to issue same-sex marriage licenses, as well as traditional licenses, as mandated by SCOTUS.

“We just kept doing what we’re supposed to be doing,” Barry Moore said. “If he would come in here and tell us an order and say ‘you shall’ or ‘you must’ stop issuing them, that would be different, but if you look at his order, it doesn’t say that.”

Moore said from Jan. 1, 2015 to Jan. 6, 2016, “We’ve issued 193 marriage licenses. Two of those have been same-sex.”