Alabama is now the 37th state along with the District of Columbia that allows same-sex couples to legally marry. Same-sex couples began getting married in Alabama on Monday morning, despite an 11th-hour attempt from the state’s Supreme Court chief justice to block the weddings.
An outspoken opponent of same-sex marriage, Chief Justice Roy Moore has ordered local officials to deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples. According to the Washington Post, he issued a letter on Sunday advising probate judges – the county officials tasked with issuing marriage licenses — to follow state law rather than the ruling of a federal judge, who struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Those who violate his order would face a reprimand by the governor, Moore wrote in his letter.
“Effective immediately, no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama Probate Judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent” with a constitutional amendment and a state law banning same-sex unions, Moore wrote.
It is unclear how much weight the order will carry with the state’s 68 probate judges, who have the sole responsibility of issuing marriage licenses in the state. A number of them had already indicated they would grant licenses to same-sex couples.
Greg Norris, president of the Alabama Probate Judge’s Association, told the Associated Press that he had heard that only four of the state’s 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples — likely due to the conflicting state and federal orders. Norris said that in his rural Monroe County, his office didn’t issue any marriage licenses.
Last month, a federal judge struck down a constitutional amendment and law that banned same-sex unions in Alabama. The judge put the ruling on hold until Monday, giving the U.S. Supreme Court time to intervene.
The U.S. Supreme Court later this year will consider whether same-sex marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution.