Alabama Chief Justice Effectively Bans Same-Sex Marriage In The State – Huffington Post
The chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court issued an administrative order on Wednesday barring state judges from issuing same-sex marriage licenses, in contravention of the broadly accepted meaning of a June 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Chief Justice Roy Moore forbade probate judges in the state from issuing marriage licenses that violate the state’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage, “until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court.”
Moore argued that the U.S. Supreme Court had only explicitly struck down same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee in its landmark decision Obergefell v. Hodges, though the ruling may be interpreted to apply to other states’ bans based on precedent.
Some judges in Alabama had chosen to interpret the ruling as requiring them to issue same-sex marriage licenses, according to Moore, while others had not. Citing numerous developments since Obergefell — including the jailing of Kim Davis, a Kentucky county clerk who made headlines last year for refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples — Moore called the present environment one of “confusion and uncertainty,” and said he hopes to address it with his administrative order.
“This disparity affects the administration of justice in this State,” he wrote.
Moore said he was choosing to act now in part because the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit had recently found that the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling did not “directly invalidate” Kansas’ same-sex marriage ban, and thus there were grounds at least to hear the case. The 8th Circuit, Moore said, had nonetheless upheld the ruling on the basis of precedent.
How the Alabama Supreme Court interprets the Obergefell decision is within their legal discretion to decide, according to Moore, and has “yet to be determined.”