Well, this is just what we needed four weeks before the Iowa caucuses, isn’t it? In Alabama, the Mobile County Probate Court has stopped issuing any and all marriage licenses to applicants for the time being. The reason is that state supreme court Chief Justice Roy Moore has issued an order halting any marriages which are “contrary” to an existing state constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage and a matching law passed previously. (WKRG Alabama)
In a four page administrative order, Chief Justice Roy Moore says, “probate judges have a ministrial 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 says, “confusion and uncertainty exist among probate judges of this State.” The uncertainty surrounds the ruling handed down by the United States Supreme Court in the Obergefell v. Hodges in June 2015. In the 5-4 decision by the Supreme Court it states the cases come from Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.
The debate surrounds the decision by the Alabama Supreme Court, which states that marriage licenses must be in accordance with Alabama law, versus the decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow same-sex marriage this past summer.
At the moment this appears to be more of a procedural move than some sort of open declaration of refusal to recognize the SCOTUS ruling in Obergefell. In a clarifying statement, the Judge apparently added this caveat. (Alabama.com)
Moore, in his order today, says the Alabama Supreme Court continues to deliberate on how the U.S. Supreme Court ruling affects the state court’s orders.
I’m not sure exactly what they’re deliberating here, but for the moment it looks like a “temporary” halt while they sort out some questions raised in lower level courts. Those objections came in contrast to an order by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade declaring both the original state law defining marriage as being between one man and one woman and the subsequent amendment to the state constitution to be unconstitutional. With this “pause” in the process, the entire question is being thrust back onto the front page.
I’ll just add this chapter as number 736 on my list of reasons why the government should stay out of the question of marriage. Why? Because by the time I finish writing this sentence, I assure you that every reporter on the campaign beat is rushing out to pin down each and every viable Republican candidate to try to goad them into responding. The long term question of whether or not a state supreme court judge can defy SCOTUS (and I don’t see how) isn’t really even the issue here. The press would love nothing more than to see if they can get any of the Republicans to go on the record in support of defying the Supreme Court on the Left’s signature issue. It might make for a brief boost in their primary numbers, but the media will make sure there’s hell to pay for it down the line.
But for now, we’ll just have to wait. I expect that this one could drag out for a while, possibly well into the actual primary elections. And why would anyone want to talk about Hillary’s mishandling of classified documents on her private email server when we can obsess over gay marriage in Alabama?