Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an administrative ruling last week ordering the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses contrary to the Alabama law and constitutional amendment barring same-sex marriage.
The ruling once again places probate judges in a double bind of conflicting allegiances: follow the U.S. Supreme Court ruling of June 26, 2015 sanctioning same-sex marriage as the law of the land, or be bound by the Alabama Supreme Court’s March 3, 2015 order specifying their “ministerial duty” to comply with Alabama law and the state constitution.“Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty,” Moore wrote in that order.
The Blount County Probate Office’s policy has been to issue marriage licenses to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling.
Moore’s order last week reaffirmed the March 3 order and stated that “the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court…remain in full force and effect,” until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court.
When asked what Blount County’s policy will be in light of Moore’s restatement, Probate Judge Chris Green replied: “I have instructed the probate office staff to respond to any media inquiries with the following statement: ‘I have Judge Moore’s administrative order in hand, along with guidance from the Association of County Commissions of Alabama (ACCA), and they are conflicting. I have taken the matter under advisement until I can reach a decision as to what to do.”
Green said Friday that he would attend the Alabama Probate Judges Association meeting in Montgomery held Monday and Tuesday of this week, using discussion of the issue there to make his final decision on Blount County’s policy going forward.“I intend to delay my final decision until I have heard arguments on both sides of the issue,” Green said.“I’m giving myself a few days to carefully consider what I’m going to do.”
Green said he has issued one same-sex license marriage license in carrying out his office’s policy since the U.S. Supreme Court decision. Marriage ceremonies are no longer performed as a function of the Blount County Probate Office