More Alabama counties start granting same-sex marriage licenses

By : Wire Report
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MONTGOMERY, Ala. — More initially reluctant Alabama probate judges began issuing gay marriage licenses Feb. 13 after a federal judge strongly suggested that her order striking down the state’s same-sex marriage ban should apply statewide.

By late Feb. 13 morning, about a third of Alabama’s 67 counties were issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, despite the opposition of the state’s chief justice.

A few counties had begun issuing licenses earlier this week after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade struck down Alabama’s ban and the U.S. Supreme Court let her ruling stand pending a final decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on same-sex marriage.

But the issue has been clouded by a conflicting order from Chief Justice Roy Moore, confusion among probate judges responsible for granting the licenses, and the refusal of some county offices to take applications from any couples at all.

Moore is an outspoken opponent of gay marriage who previously challenged the federal courts in a church-state showdown over the Ten Commandments. He argued that Granade’s Jan. 23 ruling against the ban was an illegal intrusion on Alabama’s sovereignty, and told probate judges they didn’t have to follow her order.

On Feb. 12, Granade directed the probate judge in Mobile County — one of the holdouts — to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples. The order applied directly only to Mobile County, but lawyers for couples hoping to wed across the state said they hope other probate judges get the message.

By Feb. 13, probate courts in at least three more counties reversed course and began issuing gay marriage licenses.

In Lee County, Probate Judge Bill English said his office began issuing licenses Feb. 13 morning. “Although it doesn’t mandate to me, it makes it clear,” he said, referring to the federal judge’s order.

By late Feb. 13 morning, Moore had not commented on Granade’s latest ruling.

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