Alabama has commenced issuing marriage licenses to same couples from Monday. This follows a Supreme Court ruling which refused to extend a stay on a federal judge’s earlier ruling.
Alabama became the 37th state were same sex can legally wed when Judge Alan King of Jefferson County Probate Court in Birmingham issued the first license to two women. Judge King went on to issue several more licenses.
Dee Bush, who has been with her partner Laura Bush for seven years, became a couple legally. They have five children between them and after receiving the license walked outside to a cheering crowd where a minister was conducting the wedding ceremonies.
Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore had asked the state’s probate judges Sunday not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. In a candid six page letter the social conservative Chief Justice opined that the federal judge’s ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was not obligatory on the state courts. Moreover it has caused confusion in the states.
The latest action by Chief Justice Moore is sure to lead to acrimony between the state’s chief justice and the federal courts, Justice Moore’s actions have also been condemned by the lesbian-gay-bisexual-transgender rights groups.
Legal Director Sarah Warbelow of the Human Rights Campaign called Moore’s letter “a pathetic last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat. Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama’s marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer.”
Moore’s letter was released just hours before same sex marriage became legal in Alabama. The letter read
“No probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975.”
The section which Justice Moore is referring to is the state’s 2006 constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, and the 1998 law doing so.
Both the state’s law and the constitutional amendment was struck down by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade in two decisions Jan. 23 and Jan. 26, saying that it violated same-sex couples’ equal protection and due process rights under the 14th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution.
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