HRC, SPLC blast Justice Roy Moore on marriage license order

Published: Feb. 9, 2015 at 3:25 AM CST|Updated: Feb. 9, 2015 at 3:42 AM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) - The following is a press release issued late Sunday night by the Human Rights Campaign in response to Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore's order that probate judges do not proceed with planned issuance of same-sex marriage licenses Monday:

Late this evening, in clear violation of all codes of legal ethics, boundaries of jurisdiction, and moral decency, Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore issued an order commanding all probate judges in the state to refuse to issue marriage licenses to committed and loving same-sex couples tomorrow.

Moore's edict comes as a temporary stay on a federal court ruling striking down the state's ban on marriage equality is set to expire. Under federal law, the expiration of this stay should compel every public servant tasked with issuing civil marriage licenses to extend that service to loving same-sex couples starting tomorrow. The initial ruling, handed down by a federal district court judge appointed by President George W. Bush, found the state's marriage ban violated the 14th Amendment of the U.S. constitution.

“This is a pathetic, last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat by an Alabama Supreme Court justice—a man who should respect the rule of law rather than advance his personal beliefs,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. “Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama's marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer. All probate judges should issue licenses tomorrow morning, and Chief Justice Roy Moore ought to be sanctioned.”

Just weeks ago, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade struck down Alabama's discriminatory constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying in two cases, Searcy v. Strange and Strawser v. Strange. The cases are now consolidated and are being appealed on the merits to the U.S. Court of Appeals to the 11th Circuit.

The Southern Poverty Law Center also issued a statement:

Chief Justice Roy Moore -- who once before was kicked out of office for defying a federal court order -- is once again provoking a confrontation with the federal courts. The United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama -- like virtually every other court -- has ruled that Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages is unconstitutional. 

To give the state ample opportunity to prevent the ruling from going into effect, the district court has stayed its order until Monday, February 9. The Court of Appeals and, so far, the Supreme Court of the United States has seen fit not to continue the stay. But, instead of respecting these rulings, the Chief Justice has decided to create a crisis in our state but telling the probate judges to ignore the ruling of the district court and threatening them with unspecified gubernatorial action. It's outrageous. 

We urge the probate judges to follow the Constitution of the United States and issue marriage licenses when their offices open in the morning. Chief Justice Moore has no authority to tell them to do otherwise.

Read more about the marriage ban battle in Alabama.

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