US: Alabama probate judges claim ruling doesn’t require them to marry gay couples

Illustrated rainbow pride flag on a pink background.

Despite a court ruling striking down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban, probate judges in the state plan to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

District court Judge Callie V Granade ruled on Friday that the state’s ‘Sanctity of Marriage Amendment’ – which defined marriage as between a man and a woman – was unconstitutional, writing that it harms the children of same-sex families.

The judge did not stay the ruling – meaning that it comes into effect immediately, with some couples had been preparing to begin marrying from Monday.

However, the state’s Probate Judges Association has sought to clarify the ruling – which it asserts only applies to the one couple in the case.

The group’s President, Judge Greg Norris, said: “As probate judges, our duty is to issue marriage licenses in accordance with Alabama law and that means we can not legally issue marriage licenses to same sex couples. The recent federal ruling does not change that.

Attorney Al Agricola said: “Judge Granade’s ruling in this case only applies to the parties in the case and has no effect on anybody that is not a named party. The probate judges were not parties in this matter

“The legal effect of this decision is to allow one person in one same sex marriage that was performed in another state to adopt their partner’s child.

“There is nothing in the judge’s order that requires probate judges in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.”

However, Buzzfeed’s Legal Editor Chris Geidner was not impressed by the tactic, tweeting: “When this happened in Florida, the federal judge in the case didn’t take it kindly and basically threatened everyone to go along. It worked.”