Breaking: In light of SCOTUS ruling, no marriage licenses in Covington County

Published 10:43 am Friday, June 26, 2015

Not long after the Supreme Court of the United States upheld same-sex marriage, Probate Judge Ben Bowden announced he was closing the marriage license division of the Covington County Probate Office. The decision was effective immediately.

“During this time, we will not be issuing any marriage licenses except to those couples who already have appointments to get married,” Bowden said in a statement. “This action is necessitated by the recent ruling of the United States Supreme Court addressing same-sex marriage.

“We are unable to say at this time when we will resume the issuance of marriage licenses from this office,” the statement said. “We apologize for any inconvenience this may cause and want to assure the public we are working very hard to make a final decision on how we will operate in the future.”

The Supreme Court ruled Friday in a 5-4 decision that states cannot ban same-sex marriage.

Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote for the majority with the four liberal justices. Each of the four conservative justices wrote their own dissent.

“No union is more profound than marriage, for it embodies the highest ideals of love, fidelity, devotion, sacrifice and family,” Kennedy wrote. “In forming a marital union, two people become something greater than they once were.”

“Their hope,” Kennedy wrote, “is not to be condemned to live in loneliness, excluded from one of civilization’s oldest institutions. They ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right.”

In a dissent, Justice Antonin Scalia blasted the Court’s “threat to American democracy.”

“The substance of today’s decree is not of immense personal importance to me,” he wrote. “But what really astounds is the hubris reflected in today’s judicial Putsch.”

Chief Justice John Roberts wrote that the decision had “nothing to do with the Constitution.

“If you are among the many Americans—of whatever sexual orientation—who favor expanding same-sex marriage, by all means celebrate today’s decision. Celebrate the achievement of a desired goal,” he wrote. “Celebrate the opportunity for a new expression of commitment to a partner. Celebrate the availability of new benefits. But do not celebrate the Constitution. It had nothing to do with it.”

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who filed an amicus brief in the case opposing same-sex marriage, issued a statement in which he said, ““While I do not agree with the opinion of the majority of the justices in their decision, I acknowledge that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is now the law of the land.  Short of the passage of a Constitutional Amendment protecting marriage as between one man and one woman, the U.S. Supreme Court has the final say.”