By Joseph M. Morgan
MONTGOMERY, Ala.—Despite a 2015 decision by the U.S. Supreme Court that legalized same-sex marriage in America, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an administrative order earlier this week prohibiting probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite.
In Obergefell vs. Hodges, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that the 14th Amendment requires states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages entered in other states.
In a four-page administrative order, Moore stated, “Confusion and uncertainty exist among the probate judges of this State as to the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders.” Moore noted that although the U.S. Supreme Court ruled bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional in Obergefell v. Hodges, the Supreme Court of Alabama made a ruling in March 2015 upholding the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
Moore said he issued the order, not as the Chief Justice but in his role as the Administrative Head of the Unified Judicial System of Alabama.
“The Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice can take affirmative and appropriate action to correct or alleviate any condition or situation adversely affecting the administration of justice within the state.”
Moore further noted in the order that following the U.S. Supreme Court ruling many Alabama probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while others are issuing licenses only to opposite-sex couples or not issuing licenses at all.
Moore said rulings by federal courts since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling could affect the issue in Alabama. Moore said the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the U.S. Supreme Court case invalidated only the same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
He further noted that the U.S. District Court in Kansas found that although the U.S. Supreme Court ruling “is clearly controlling Supreme Court precedent, it did not directly strike down the provisions of the Kansas Constitution and statutes that bar the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.”
In a joint statement late Wednesday, the United States attorneys in Birmingham and Mobile expressed grave concerns about Moore’s order.
“Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not to disobey it,” Joyce White Vance and Kenyen R. Brown said. “This issue has been decided by the highest court in the land, and Alabama must follow that law.”