No change for now, but final decision still in limbo

Same-sex marriage licenses...

Following a meeting last week of the state’s probate judges in Montgomery, at which definitive clarification of the state’s policy on same-sex marriage was hoped for, the issue remains murky. It was once again cast into confusion following Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s re-issue on Jan. 6 of last year’s administrative order to Alabama probate judges banning the issuing of same-sex marriage licenses as contrary to state law and the state constitution.

Until the matter is further clarified, according to Blount County Probate Judge Chris Green, the current policy of the Blount County Probate Office to issue marriage licenses to both opposite-sex and same-sex couples will remain in effect. The probate office no longer performs marriage ceremonies in either case.

Moore’s order, originally issued March 3 last year, declared probate judges have a “ministerial duty” to enforce Alabama law and the state constitution. In a decision rendered last June, the U.S. Supreme Court affirmed same-sex marriage as the law of the land. Moore’s Jan. 6, 2016, order restating the original administrative order appears to directly conflict with that ruling.

Blount County Probate Judge Chris Green said the anticipated clarification last week did not materialize, partly because a definitive order by the Alabama Supreme Court which could lay the matter to rest, is still pending. There are also cases still pending in federal district court in Mobile that could affect the situation, he said.

“I will continue Blount County’s present policy for now with no changes, as legal counsel at several levels continues to study a complicated situation,” Green said.“The only other decision I could come to is to issue no licenses to anyone, and that clearly wouldn’t be in the interests of the people of Blount County. Everyone or no one.”

Green said he has no way of knowing when the matter will be resolved once and for all, but said he hopes it will be within the next month or so.