Media Courtesy of NY Times
Marriage equality has finally become the norm in yet another state, but not without controversy.
Yesterday (Feb. 9), Alabama became the 37th state to reach marriage equality due to a January 23rd ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade saying that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. However, Alabama’s chief justice, Roy Moore, has argued that this is an illegal breach of the sovereignty to Alabama’s state laws and has demanded that all probate judges refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples who apply.
"It's my duty to speak up when I see the jurisdiction of our courts being intruded by unlawful federal authority," Moore said
Moore is no stranger to controversy, having been famously removed from the bench in 2003 after refusing to remove a boulder-sized monument of the Ten Commandments from the state courthouse (he was later re-elected in 2012 after a number of failed bids for governor), and apparently many in Alabama agree with their outspoken chief justice.
“The federal judiciary has no authority under the Constitution to inquire into a state’s reasoning for its public policy positions on marriage any more than the federal judiciary could question Alabamians’ selection of a state bird,” said Judge John E. Enslen, a judge in Alabama’s Elmore County, who has said he will not issue licenses
to same-sex couples.
Amid the controversy, as many as 52 of the 67 counties in Alabama refused to process the required paperwork to issue licenses to same-sex couples. However, not all of this is due to outright defiance, as many officials are claiming confusion and a desire to not get in the middle of the battle between state and federal officials. “We’ve got Alabama’s chief justice issuing an order, and we’ve got an order out from a federal judge,” said Judge Greg Norris of Monroe County. “It’s just a very difficult situation.”
The good news is that most experts believe that judges in Alabama will be required to abide by the federal ruling and issue marriage licenses to all who apply, as Dale Carpenter, a law professor at the University of Minnesota explained. “The principle has now been well established that the states are subject to the superior command of the federal Constitution.”
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