The top judge in Alabama has announced an order to the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This comes after the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages across the nation last year.
Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court issued the administrative order on Wednesday, citing that March of last year the state’s high court upheld the state’s ban against same-sex unions. Three months after the upholding of the ban, the nation’s High Court ruled that the banning of same-sex marriages was unconstitutional as noted in the Obergefell v. Hodges case.
“Confusion and uncertainty exist among the probate judges of this State as to the effect of Obergefell on the ‘existing orders’ ” — that is, the March 2015 instructions that bans on same-sex marriage should be enforced, Moore wrote in his order.
He also suggests that the Supreme Court decision invalidates the marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee — that is, the specific laws named in Obergefell — but not necessarily in Alabama.
“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,” he wrote. “That issue remains before the entire [Alabama Supreme] Court which continues to deliberate on the matter.”
Instead, Moore argued that while the “legal analysis is yet to be determined,” the “confusion” over the law has an adverse effect on the administration of justice in Alabama.
Based on that reasoning, he ordered that probate judges have “a ministerial duty” not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — at least until the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.
This isn’t the first time Justice Moore has challenged the federal rulings. In January 2015, U.S. District Court Judge Ginny Granade ruled that Alabama’s ban was unconstitutional. The following month, Moore told probate judges they weren’t bound to Judge Granade’s decision, which created a statewide conflict.
The Southern Poverty Law Center stated that Moore’s order is part of a “personal anti-LGBT agenda.”