ALABAMA: Number Of Counties Refusing Same-Sex Licenses Grows Dramatically

At the start of the day fewer than a dozen of Alabama’s 67 counties had been confirmed as refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses. It appears that number has now about tripled.

Most of the counties contacted by AL.com this morning have suspended issuing all marriage licenses in the wake of conflicting rulings from a federal judge and the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court. The majority of counties across the state have either suspended the issuance of all marriage licenses or are only accepting applications. Probate judges have said it is the best compromise for the moment, until they determine which order to follow. Other probate judges have said that they may change their policies within hours or days. Counties colored red are not issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Those colored green are issuing licenses to all couples. Those shaded in yellow are not issuing any marriage licenses and those colored orange are only accepting applications, but issuing no licenses.

The status of the 23 unshaded counties in the above map is presently unknown.

UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign is reporting that 42 counties are now refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples. The HRC points the blame at Gov. Bentley, who announced early this afternoon that he will not take action against judges who defy the Supreme Court.

What makes Bentley’s statement particularly galling is that, outside Justice Roy Moore almost-hourly release of an anti-marriage fiat, there is virtually no sign of protest or discontent in counties where same-sex marriages are happening. In Montgomery, cheers and joy greeted the first couples to obtain marriage licenses earlier today. In Birmingham, a steady stream of loving couples filed through the courthouse. The only interruptions came when happy families paused to take photos. In other words, the only thing “complicat[ing]” the execution of the law in Alabama is the stonewalling of individuals like Justice Moore, Governor Bentley, and the probate judges who are refusing to follow the binding implications of a federal court ruling. “This is not exactly a ‘profiles in courage’ moment by Governor Bentley. When Justice Roy Moore chose to ignore a federal ruling, at least he was willing to own up to it,” said HRC Vice President of Communications Fred Sainz. “In fact, Governor Bentley is now just as complicit in kicking up lawlessness and discrimination in his state as Moore. That’s not leadership, it’s political cowardice.”