Alabama's Top Judge: Ignore Feds on Same-Sex Marriage

Courthouse showdowns loom after Moore order
By Newser Editors and Wire Services
Posted Feb 8, 2015 10:55 PM CST
Updated Feb 9, 2015 12:01 AM CST
Alabama's Top Judge: Ignore Feds on Same-Sex Marriage
Tori Sisson, who plans to marry another woman this morning, receives a "No Moore" sticker from a supporter near the Montgomery County Courthouse Sunday, Feb. 8, 2015.   (AP Photo/Brynn Anderson)

Alabama is set to become the 37th state where gays can legally wed, even as the state's chief justice has made an 11th-hour attempt to put such weddings on hold. Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore sent a letter to probate judges last night ordering them to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Moore told the judges they're not bound by a federal judge's recent ruling that overturned the state's ban on gay marriage. "No probate judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent" with the state constitution, he wrote in his order.

Gay couples are expected at courthouses around the state today as a federal judge's order overturning the gay marriage ban takes effect. Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union, says she doubts probate judges will defy a federal judge on Moore's behalf and accuses the chief justice of grandstanding. Some of the state's 68 probate judges say they will not issue same-sex marriage licenses, while others appear likely to comply with the federal ruling. "With all due respect to Chief Justice Moore, he's on the Alabama Supreme Court, and he's not a federal judge," a probate judge in Jefferson County tells the New York Times. (More Alabama stories.)

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