Even though the U.S. Supreme Court intervened to allow same-sex couples in Alabama to marry in spite of a voter approved ban on the practice, the state’s chief justice ordered all state judges to refuse to do so – and most of them are complying!
The Family Research Council (FRC) is reporting that Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore issued an order on Sunday night to all state judges to defy a federal ruling that overturned the state’s voter-approved ban on gay marriage.
"Effective immediately, no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with the Alabama Constitution."
Even though Judge Moore had the backing of Alabama Governor Robert Bentley, most people scoffed at the order, thinking it would be widely ignored, but they were wrong.
As of today, judges in 52 of the state’s 67 counties are refusing to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.
In fact, just minutes after the U.S. Supreme Court gave the green light to issue the licenses in the state, probate offices began to turn down license requests. Judges across the state began to send same-sex couples home without a license.
“Caught between the state's courts and a federal judge, most offices are issuing their own stay,” the FRC explains.
Regardless of any backlash, state workers were firm. For instance, when the doors of the office opened in Limestone County at 8:30 a.m. yesterday, Probate Judge Hardy McCollum invited the media and local citizens into his office and calmly explained:
“The Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court gave some direct orders to the probate offices that we should not and are not to issue same-sex marriage licenses. He being the chief administrative and judicial officer for the state of Alabama, we are held to his order and we're going to comply with his order."
Workers in Elmore County posted a sign on office doors explaining: "This policy of not issuing same-sex marriage licenses will remain in effect pending further instructions to the contrary…"
John Enslen, probate judge for Elmore County, said he’s not afraid to lose his job over the issue of same-sex marriage. "I will never perform a so-called same-sex marriage," he wrote. "A federal court can put me in jail for life, and I will still never perform a so-called same-sex marriage. As a believer in the Word of God… I cannot in good conscience participate in a purported marriage ceremony which I strongly believe would profane the sacred institution of marriage."
Before anyone could accuse him of hate-speech, he issued this statement: "This is not about hating people. Each of us needs to treat every other human being with dignity and respect, regardless of our diametrically opposing viewpoints on this divisive issue. But tolerance is a two-way street. Either there is tolerance for all or there is tolerance for none. I want tolerance for my personal religious viewpoint."
But that didn’t stop the threats. According to NBC News, Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, warned the state’s judges not to comply with Judge Moore’s orders.
“I would really think long and hard before defying a federal court order,” she said.
But Mat Staver, the head of Liberty Counsel, a legal defense firm devoted to upholding religious freedom and family values, agreed with Judge Moore saying that probate judges in Alabama “are not bound by an opinion of a single federal judge.”
He went on to offer legal assistance to any judge who disregards the federal ruling.
As for Judge Moore, he is standing firm in his pledge to allow no same-sex marriage to take place in his state.
“The U.S. district courts have no power or authority to redefine marriage,” Judge Moore told NBC. “A lot of states in this union have caved to such unlawful authority, and this is not one. This is Alabama. We don’t give up the recognition that law has bounds.”
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