ALABAMA: State Supreme Court Orders Stop To Same-Sex Marriages


Weeks after a United States District Court judge in Mobile ordered a probate judge there to issue same-sex marriage licenses, the Alabama Supreme Court has ordered a halt to same-sex marriages in the state. “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman,” the order said. “Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.” While same-sex marriage advocates chanted “love wins” outside Alabama courthouses last month, the Alabama Supreme Court said love has little to do with legal marriage in the state. “This notion has broad public appeal and is, perhaps, the mantra most repeated in public discussions of this matter,” the court wrote. “But although love may be an important factor in a lasting marriage, civil marriage has no public interest in whether the people seeking a marriage license love one another.”

Chief Justice Roy Moore appears to have recused himself from the case. See the full ruling. At this writing there’s been no change to the Wikipedia map.

UPDATE: The Human Rights Campaign reacts:

Today, HRC condemned a ruling by the Alabama state Supreme Court ordering a halt to same-sex marriages in the state. In the ruling, the Court granted an emergency petition by two anti-LGBT groups, the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program, who sought to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses across the state. The order, which has no foundation in constitutional law, flies in the face a prevailing federal ruling by Judge Callie V.S. Granade issued weeks ago.

“The Alabama state Supreme Court does not have the authority to interfere with a federal court order,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “This order is outrageous and baffling, and no amount of legalese can hide the bare animus that forms the foundation of this extralegal ruling.”

In the bizarre, rambling 150 page opinion, the majority on the state Supreme Court steps far beyond the complaint before it, arguing, “Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage. […] Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law.”

UPDATE II: The Liberty Counsel does a cartwheel:

In a statement after the ruling, lawyers from Liberty Counsel, which represented the plaintiffs, applauded the decision and blasted the federal judge who ruled in favor of same-sex marriages in Mobile. “The ruling represents a significant shift of momentum in the same-sex marriage agenda, and is a direct challenge to the orders of U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade, who in January purported to overturn Alabama’s marriage laws,” the firm said in a statement released Tuesday night. “The ruling of the Alabama Supreme Court offers the most forceful and clearly articulated rebuttal to date of the imaginative arguments for same-sex ‘marriage’ employed by federal courts.”

UPDATE III: Roy Moore has posted three different news links to tonight’s action on his Facebook page.

UPDATE IV: Freedom To Marry reacts:

The Alabama Supreme Court has done a disservice to itself, not to mention a massive injustice to the people of Alabama, in allowing itself to be used to temporarily obstruct the freedom to marry and the enforcement of the constitutions guarantees. This latest Roy Moore travesty will not stand. The probate judges who are caught in the middle will be looking for guidance, and I am confident that the federal courts — and soon the U.S. Supreme Court — will provide it. The sad thing is that this manipulated lawsuit — the Alabama Supreme Court led by Roy Moore did not even ask for briefing on the constitutional questions it rushed to get wrong — will be one more delay for, and insult, to the loving couples seeking to marry, albeit a temporary one.