The Alabama supreme court has ordered the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, a decision that flies in the face of numerous rulings by federal judges in Alabama and other states across the country who have said banning gay marriage violates the US Constitution.
The all-Republican court sided with a pair of conservative organizations on Tuesday in ruling that the US Constitution doesn’t alter the judges’ duty to administer state law, which defines marriage as between only one man and one woman.
Six justices concurred in the 134-page opinion, which wasn’t signed, but the court’s most outspoken opponent of gay marriage, Chief Justice Roy Moore, recused himself.
Gay marriages began in some Alabama counties on 9 February following a decision by US District Judge Callie Granade of Mobile, who ruled that both Alabama’s constitutional and statutory bans on same-sex marriage were unconstitutional.
Immediately after the judge’s ruling Moore told probate judges across the state they were not obliged to issue same-sex marriage licenses. His stance created widespread confusion, prompting some judges to refuse to issue the licenses and others to shut down their operations for all couples, gay and straight, until they could get a clear answer. (Read more about Alabama’s Supreme Court halting homosexual marriage licenses HERE)