Constitutional Law

Alabama chief justice orders probate judges to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses

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Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has issued an administrative order saying the state’s probate judges have a duty to enforce the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Moore wrote that the U.S. Supreme Court decision finding a right to gay marriage has created “confusion and uncertainty” among judges, reports. Some judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples and some are not, while some are not issuing marriage licenses at all, he said in the order issued Wednesday.

The U.S. Supreme Court decision finding a constitutional right to gay marriage, Obergefell v. Hodges, was issued in June. But Moore cited an Alabama Supreme Court ruling upholding the state ban on gay marriage, which was issued about three months before Obergefell. That decision included an order directing probate judges to follow the state’s ban on gay marriage when issuing marriage licenses.

A case pending in the Alabama Supreme Court addresses the effect of Obergefell on the Alabama Supreme Court’s order, Moore wrote. Until the state supreme court issues an opinion, the prior order remains in effect, Moore said.

Barry Lynn, executive director of Americans United for Separation of Church and State, criticized Moore’s order in a press release. “I have a news flash for Roy Moore,” he said. “The U.S. Supreme Court upheld marriage equality in June, and the decision extends nationwide.”

Hat tip to @EQCF and @ChuckLindell.

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