The Alabama Supreme Court ordered judges to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses, defying the United States Supreme Court after it underlined the great opposition to gay marriages in the conservative state.
The decision comes three weeks after a decision taken by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade to overturn Alabama’s ban on gay marriage went into effect. The federal ruling states that banning same-sex marriages is unconstitutional and some counties started issuing licenses since February 9.
The Supreme Court of Alabama in Montgomery gave a 7-1 favorable decision to the two conservative organizations, the Alabama Policy Institute and the Baptist-run Alabama Citizens Action Program, which had appealed to the United States Supreme Court ruling.
“As it has done for more than 200 years, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman,” said the ruling of the Montgomery court, which continued: “Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage licence contrary to this law”.
U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade responded to the ruling, saying that probate judges should follow her order, and not that of the Alabama Chief of Justice Roy Moore, who issued a similar order last month.
It was not the first time the state of Alabama banned the licensing of gay marriages. In 1996, same-sex matrimony and it’s recognition was deemed illegal by executive order of the governor, while in 2006 was banned by constitutional amendment, supported by 81 per cent of the voters.
The stance created some confusion among Alabama judges, some of them refusing to issue the licenses, while other decided to shut down all operation regarding couple, straight or gay.
The Supreme Court in Montgomery described the licenses received by the same-sex couples in Alabama as “purported”, while Ronald Krotoszynski, a constitutional law expert at University of Alabama School of Law said that the ruling will not affect them.
Gay rights movements and advocates have criticized the ruling. “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,” said the National Center for Lesbian Rights in a statement.
The US Supreme Court will clarify the situation in Alabama, as well as in other 13 states where same-sex marriage remains illegal, in a ruling that is expected in June.
Photo Source: EJI