Alabama State Supreme Court issues 25-Day optional delay on same-sex marriage licenses

by Kimberly Pennington |

(Official photo)Front: Tom Parker, Lyn Stuart, Roy S. Moore, Michael F. Bolin, Gelnn Murdock Back: Alisa Kelli Wise, James Allen Main, Greg Shaw, Tommy Bryan

MONTGOMERY, Ala. (Christian Examiner) -- The Alabama State Supreme Court issued an order Monday inviting parties in a state case involving gay marriage and the Alabama Policy Institute to submit motions or briefs by July 6 addressing the impact on their case of last week's United States Supreme Court's Obergefell v. Hodges decision which legalized same-sex marriage in all 50 states.

Initially interpreted as an order to prevent Alabama state officials from issuing same-sex marriage licenses, Chief Justice Roy Moore later clarified the order saying that clerks and judges could but were not required to accommodate same-sex marriages in the state during the 25-day period.

The Alabama Supreme Court issued the order based on the fact that federal Supreme Court decisions do not become law until after a 25-day waiting period in which parties to the case can petition the court for a re-hearing of the case.

Although a re-hearing of Obergefell v. Hodges is unlikely, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore stated that during that 25-day period, the U.S. Supreme Court order is not in effect.

Alabama state law only allows for marriage between one man and one woman.

The ACLU of Alabama has called the state Court ruling a stalling tactic, and Shannon Minter of the National Center for Lesbian Rights stated the order had no practical effect because U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade had already order Alabama probate judges to stop enforcing the state's ban on same-sex marriage as soon as the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling. Minter argued that Granade's order was binding immediately.

Granade previously issued a stay on her own order prior to the U.S. Supreme Court decision. At the time, Moore argued Granade's authority did not extend across the entire state but was limited only to the judges in her district.

Just before Monday's order was released, the association of county commissioners issued a statement urging all probate judges to issue same-sex marriage licenses in light of the federal Supreme Court ruling.

Other states are refusing to comply with the U.S. Supreme Court order. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement Sunday saying that state employees can refuse to accommodate same-sex marriage based on their personal religious convictions. Texas Governor Greg Abbott issued a memo to state employees asking them to prioritize First Amendment protections over the Obergefell v. Hodges decision.

Mississippi and Louisiana officials, including Louisiana governor and Republican presidential candidate Bobby Jindal, are also utilizing their legal authority to prevent state and local officials from being compelled to violate their religious beliefs in the matter of accommodating gay marriage, and some county clerks in Kentucky are also refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses.