The Supreme Court of Alabama on Tuesday issued order to the probate judges for stopping the issuance of marriage licenses to the gay or same-sex couples in an apparent defiance of the US top court.
The decision by the Alabama top court underlined the depth of opposition to the same-sex marriages prevailing in the socially conservative state.
In its ruling, the state Supreme Court said, “As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman. 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 7-1 ruling comes about three weeks after the decision of US District Judge Callie Granade to overturn ban on gay matrimony by Alabama top court came into effect after the Supreme Court of the United States declined to put it on hold.
The Alabama high court in its ruling granted an emergency petition by two Alabama groups who were opposed to same-sex weddings.
Ronald Krotoszynski, a constitutional law expert at the University of Alabama School of Law, said that the high court would unlikely affect those gay couples in Alabama who have already received the marriage licenses.
Ahead of Tuesday’s ruling, just a handful of probate judges in the 67 counties of the state were still declining the marriage licenses to same-sex couples, many of them swinging by Granade’s order by directing probate judge Don Davis of Mobile County to commence the issuance of marriage licenses.
In Tuesday’s ruling, probate judge Davis was asked to report to the high court of Alabama whether he is considering himself bound by Granade’s order.
Meanwhile, the Gay rights advocates and activists were found critical of the Tuesday’s ruling.
In a statement, the National Center for Lesbian Rights said, “It is deeply unfortunate that even as nationwide marriage equality is on the horizon, the Alabama Supreme Court is determined to be on the wrong side of history. The only question is not whether marriage equality will return to Alabama, but how quickly.”
This year, the US Supreme Court agreed to hear the cases related to gay marriages and whether the states can ban such unions. The expected ruling by the US Supreme Court in June will provide more clarity on the gay marriage issue in Alabama and other 13 states where such weddings remain illegal.