State court orders halt of same-sex marriages

Published 9:08 pm Tuesday, March 3, 2015

Weeks after a U.S. District Court judge in Mobile ordered a probate judge there to issue same-sex marriage licenses, the Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday 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.”

The order, called a writ of mandamus, had been requested by the Alabama Policy Institute and the Alabama Citizens Action Program last month.

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.

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, a vocal opponent of same-sex marriage in the media, was not listed among the concurring or dissenting judges and appears to have recused himself from the case.

The order gives probate judges five days to submit responses if they want to show cause why they should be able to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Covington County Probate Judge Ben Bowden was among the probate judges who refused to issue same-sex licenses after the federal judge ruled.