Alabama chief justice defies Supreme Court gay marriage ruling, forbids clerks to issue licenses

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(RNS) — Alabama’s probate courts may not issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court has ordered.

Chief Justice Roy Moore ruled Wednesday (Jan. 6) that Alabama’s Marriage Protection Act, which bars such unions, remains “in full force and effect” despite a June ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court that struck down similar laws banning same-sex marriage in Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee, according to USA Today.

“Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force and effect,” Moore wrote in the order.

Alabama is faced with conflicting rulings, between an earlier decision of Alabama’s Supreme Court and the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, Moore wrote. Until the Alabama court acts to resolve the conflict, its earlier decision stands, Moore wrote.

This is not Moore’s first attempt to blur church-state boundaries. He was Alabama’s chief justice in 2003, when a state judicial panel removed him because he refused to obey a federal judge’s order to remove a 5,200-pound granite Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the Alabama Judicial Building. But he was re-elected to the post in 2012.

In the same-sex marriage showdown, Moore does not have the authority to override higher courts, Scott McCoy, a senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, told Reuters news service.

“Chief Justice Roy Moore today issued a dead letter,” said McCoy. “This is Moore yet again confusing his role as chief justice with his personal anti-LGBT agenda.”

Reaction on social media was swift and contrary. LGBT voices knocked Moore:

But Christian supporters were vocal about supporting the chief justice:

— Written by Cathy Lynn Grossman