Just a few weeks after a United States District Court Judge in Mobile ordered a local probate judge to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses, the Alabama Supreme Court has ordered a halt on statewide same-sex marriage.
“As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman,” the order said. “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 order gives probate judges five days to present arguments on why they should be allowed to issue the licenses.
This only adds to the confusion in the state.
Last month, Alabama’s chief justice Ray Moore (the same Ray Moore who defied a federal court order to remove a monument to the 10 commandments from the state courthouse) ordered state judges to disobey the ruling of the federal judge. It resulted in some counties following one authority, and some following another.
That situation prompted Elmore County Probate Judge John E. Enslen to ask for clarification from the Alabama Supreme Court, and thus we have this even more confusing decision form the state supreme court.
David Kennedy, one of the lawyers who represented the couple who initially challenged the same-sex marriage ban, doesn’t think the decision will hold up to federal scrutiny.
“I don’t really think that they can do that. I’m not surprised, but I’m somewhat appalled,” he said. “The Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the stay (on the order striking down the gay marriage ban) would expire on Feb. 9. On Feb. 9, same-sex marriage effectively became legal in Alabama.”
“Whenever state law conflicts with federal law, federal law wins,” he added.