Ala. Bill Would Let Judges Opt Out Of Performing Gay Marriages

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March 5, 2015 2:46 p.m.

Alabama lawmakers introduced a bill last week that would let judges and ministers opt out of performing any marriages.

Republican state Rep. Jim Hill introduced the legislation in response to a federal judge’s ruling that struck down the state’s ban on gay marriages.

Hill told The Guardian that after the ruling, he received numerous phone calls from probate judges “asking: ‘Are we now going to be required to perform [same-sex marriages]?'”

After the ruling, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told the state’s probate judges not to issue licenses to gay couples, setting off a lot of confusion in the state. And on Tuesday, the state Supreme Court ordered probate judges to stop issuing gay marriage licenses, defying the federal court ruling.

“Hopefully it will clear up any confusion,” Hill told The Guardian about his bill.

The legislation states that “those authorized to solemnize marriages” don’t have to “solemnize the marriage of any person.” The bill also establishes “the rights of those associated with religious organizations, institutions, and societies as related to marriage recognition and solemnization.”

Opponents of the bill worry that the legislation would let judges recuse themselves from performing marriages for gay couples, as well any other couples they claim go against their religious convictions.

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