Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has ordered the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licences to same-sex couples. This news came soon after it became clear that the Supreme Court of the United States would not respond to a request made by Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange to place a stay on the rulings which would allow same-sex marriage in the state starting today on 9 February 2015. The SCOTUS finally denied the request early on Monday.
In a six-page letter, Chief Justice Moore said that there had been ‘confusion’ about a federal judge’s decision to strike down the state’s constitutional ban on same-sex marriage. Chief Justice Moore claimed that the decision was not binding in state courts.
‘…no probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03 of the Alabama Constitution or §30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975,’ the letter said, referring to Alabama’s 2006 constitutional amendment and the 1998 law banning same-sex marriage.
HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow issued a statement which described the letter as, ‘a pathetic last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat’.
The statement continued: ‘Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama’s marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer.’
Richard Cohen, president of the Southern Poverty Law Center, issued a statement after filing an ethics complaint against Chief Justice Moore. ‘We urge the probate judges to follow the Constitution of the United States and issue marriage licenses when their offices open in the morning. Chief Justice Moore has no authority to tell them to do otherwise.’
Even with Chief Justice Moore’s order, couples have already begun marrying as of 4.30am today.