Freeze on judge's order means same-sex marriages still unobtainable in AL

Freeze on judge's order means same-sex marriages still unobtainable in AL

HUNTSVILLE, AL (WAFF) - After Friday's federal ruling that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional, many gay couples believe they will be able to get marriage licenses Monday morning.

However, at least for the next two weeks, that will not happen, as a stay on the order was granted Sunday, meaning the judge's order is frozen for at least 14 days.

Same-sex couples were planning to head to local court offices Monday to apply for marriage licenses. Had the stay not gone into effect, it was still unlikely that would happen.

Sunday, the president of the Alabama Probate Judges' Association held a press conference, saying the state's probate judges cannot legally issue licenses to same-sex couples because the current ban is still in effect.

President Greg Norris, Monroe County Probate Judge, said the federal lawsuit was a specific party-versus-party dispute, with Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange as the only defendant.

The plaintiffs, a lesbian couple in Mobile, sought the right of one of the women to legally adopt the other's child. They had been denied because Alabama did not recognize their marriage, which happened in California.

Attorney General Strange filed to have the judge's decision stayed until the US Supreme Court rules in a case later this year. That stay was approved Sunday evening.

That case is an appeal to a federal judge's decision to uphold same-sex marriage bans in four states. Several previous federal rulings have deemed such bans as unconstitutional.

The executive committee of the APJA states its position is the lawsuit does not order probate judges on any action, and it is a narrow, specific decision concerning only the two plaintiffs at the state attorney general.

Sunday evening, Equality Alabama, Human Rights Campaign, American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and the Southern Poverty Law Center issued a statement regarding the APJA recommendation:

On Friday, January 23, 2015, Federal District Court Judge Callie Granade, ruled that Alabama's marriage laws prohibiting marriage of same-sex couples violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.

Judge Granade's order is immediate and applies statewide in Alabama. Absent a stay, Alabama Constitution Article I, 36.03 and Alabama Code 30-1-19, which prohibit same-sex marriage are no longer valid.

The Alabama Probate Judges Association is a private organization whose legal advice is non- binding. Simply put, the non-binding legal opinion of the Probate Association cannot and does not preempt a Federal Order. Probate judges should comply with their constitutional obligations as declared by a federal court rather than the desires of the leaders of a private professional organization.

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