On the day same-sex marriages were scheduled to become legal, Alabama judge refused to give permits to requesting lawyers. Chief Justice Roy S. Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court defied the Supreme Court’s ruling stating “Effective immediately, no probate judge of the State of Alabama shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent,” meaning any license that is not given to a man and a woman. The gay marriage law is being ignored by Alabama judges, including Moore.
The ruling that came out in January was suspected to cause legal tension within the state. Judge Granade responded to the nationwide law by saying it was unconstitutional. While the Supreme Court reviews this statement, the chief justice said the law would also be delayed, allowing state judges choice over the matter. However, she encourages them to abide by her decision.
Same-sex couples are expected to receive marriage licenses Monday morning. Ben Cooper, chairman of Equality gay rights group in Alabama, stated that if come Monday morning licenses are refused “then these probate judges could be personally liable.” He suspects that legal action would be taken against these judges who do not follow the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Some Alabama state judges have already come out to say that they will do absolutely nothing to aid gay marriage and licenses will not be available at their probate offices. Like Moore, gay couples in Alabama fear that other judges will ignore the new gay marriage law.
Judge Nick Williams of Alabama released his statement saying he will only issue marriage licenses to a man and a woman for that is what is right under God. He further elaborated that this is what is right in Alabama.
Not only is this a gay rights issue, it has become a state’s rights issue as well. Other judges have announced they will issue marriage licenses but they refuse to wed the couple saying they must go somewhere else to wed because it conflicts with their religious views.
Currently, 36 states have legalized same-sex marriage. The Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights group, has filed a civil complaint about Moore, saying that his refusal to follow the court’s decision reinforces “lawlessness.” If Alabama cooperates with the law on Monday, Alabama will be the first state in the conservative south to allow same-sex marriage.
Reverend Ellin Jimmerson is not afraid to speak up if licenses are refused on Monday. She states that all men and women should have these rights; this is what this age allows. She also shared that despite a person’s personal beliefs, allowing these marriage licenses is what is right.
Jimmerson is also making an extra effort to support gay couples by hosting a celebratory event where hair stylists will doll up the couple and wed them offering them a chapel when most churches are condemning wedding the couples.
Although the legalization of gay marriage in Alabama is being ignored by some judges, it is evident there is also an opposing support group. On Monday it will become clear who will decide to follow the Supreme Court’s decision, and who will not.
Written by Audrey Madden
Photo by – Susan Melkisethian – Creative Commons License