MONTGOMERY, Alabama, January 8, 2016 (LifeSiteNews) – Alabama's top justice has ordered the state's judges to uphold the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, despite the U.S. Supreme Court Obergefell v. Hodges decision last June redefining marriage.
Chief Justice Roy Moore said probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue marriage licenses in conflict with the state marriage amendment pending a decision from the Alabama Supreme Court.
“Confusion and uncertainty exist among the probate judges of this State as to the effect of Obergefell on the 'existing orders' in API,” Moore said in a January 6 administrative order. “Many probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in accordance with Obergefell; others are issuing marriage licenses only to couples of the opposite gender or have ceased issuing all marriage licenses. This disparity affects the administration of justice in this State.”
Moore said he did not intend to defy the Supreme Court but that there were “conflicting orders” between the U.S. Supreme Court and the Alabama Supreme Court, according to a report from the Montgomery Advertiser.
The Alabama court upheld the state's 1998 Defense of Marriage Act and 2006 state constitutional amendment defining marriage, approved by a substantial majority (81.2%) of Alabama residents, last March.
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Two months prior, in January, U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade had struck down the state's marriage protection laws, ruling that they violated same-sex couples' equal protection and due process rights.
Moore told the state's probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to homosexual couples at the time because it would violate state law.
And he pressed Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley to oppose the ruling, telling him in a letter, “As Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. Be advised that I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority.”
The case before the Alabama Supreme Court is still pending, and Moore said the orders in that case prohibiting same-sex marriage licenses remained in force until the Supreme Court made a ruling.
“I did give an order that they were to follow the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court,” he said on Wednesday. “That's simple, black letter law. The effect of Obergefell on those existing orders has to be determined by the Alabama Supreme Court.”
Religious liberty and marriage advocates welcomed Moore's administrative order.
The National Organization for Marriage (NOM) said that Moore's order is part of developing resistance in America to the Supreme Court's attempt to legislate from the bench when it comes to marriage.
“The American people reject judicial activism of the US Supreme Court and their attempt to redefine marriage,” its statement said. “They continue to support marriage as it has existed throughout our nation's history, the union of one man and one woman.”
“I applaud Chief Justice Roy Moore for this order reaffirming the marriage law in Alabama,” said Liberty Counsel founder and chairman Mat Staver.
“In Alabama and across America, state judiciaries and legislatures are standing up against the federal judiciary or anyone else who wants to come up with some cockeyed view that somehow the Constitution now births some newfound notion of same-sex marriage,” Staver stated in a ChristianNewsWire report. “The opinion of five lawyers on the U.S. Supreme Court regarding same-sex marriage is lawless and without legal or historical support.”