The Alabama Supreme Court’s chief justice ordered probate judges and other state employees not to issue or recognize marriage licenses for same-sex couples, even though a federal appeals court ruling cleared the way for gay marriage to begin in the state on Monday.
AL.com reported that Chief Justice Roy Moore, who is best known for refusing to remove a statue of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building, said in an order issued late Sunday that recognizing or issuing same-sex marriage licenses violates Alabama law.
Moore threatened that Gov. Robert Bentley (R) would be responsible for ensuring that state law is “faithfully executed” should any probate judge issue or recognize a same-sex marriage license.
One probate judge, Alan King of Jefferson County, told AL.com that he was inclined to follow the appeals court’s order.
“I only found out Justice Moore had issued his order a little before 10 p.m,” he said. “At first glance, my legal analysis is do we in Jefferson County follow a valid federal court order or do we follow an order by one member, albeit the chief justice, of the Alabama Supreme Court?”
Bentley’s office told the news website that the governor was not aware of Moore’s order.
It’s unclear whether probate judges will follow Moore’s order. AL.com reported that judges have differed in whether they intend to issue marriage licenses to all couples, deny licenses to gay couples or deny licenses to all couples.
Catherine Thompson is a senior editor for Talking Points Memo in New York City. She came to the site in 2013 and reported on national affairs. Previously, she worked as a research assistant to investigative reporter Wayne Barrett. She can be reached at email@example.com.