AL Supreme Court orders halt to same-sex marriage licenses

Published: Mar. 3, 2015 at 11:18 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 4, 2015 at 9:09 PM CST
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Supreme Court handed down a special ruling Tuesday, ordering a stop to the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses by probate judges.

The order addresses the confusion over same-sex marriage licenses in Alabama.

Shortly after a federal court judge ruled Alabama's ban on same-sex marriages is not constitutional, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore handed down an order banning probate judges from issuing same-sex licenses.

The probate judge in Elmore County asked the Alabama Supreme Court for guidance.

The 148-page document, in part, states:

Every day, more and more purported "marriage licenses" are being issued to same-sex couples by some of the probate judges in this State. Every day, the recipients of those licenses and others with whom they interact may be, and presumably are, relying upon the validity of those licenses in their personal and business affairs. Every probate judge in this State, regardless of his or her own stance on the issuance of such licenses, will soon enough be faced, in his or her judicial capacity, with a universe of novel derivative questions unprecedented in their multiplicity, scope, and urgency. The circuit courts of this State will confront a similar experience...

It is clear that no other court in this State has the jurisdiction to provide the relief necessary in this most unusual of cases. There is a need for immediate, uniform relief among all the probate judges of this State, and no circuit court has jurisdiction over any probate judge outside its territorial jurisdiction...

The "magnitude and importance" of the issue before us is unparalleled. And the "special reasons" that compel us to act are unlike any other in the history of our jurisprudence... we are clear to the conclusion that this Court has the authority to act in this matter to maintain and restore order in the administration of our laws by the probate judges and the courts of this State.

You can read a PDF version of the full document here.

Tuesday's ruling names Madison County Judge Tommy Ragland as a respondent in the case.

Probate judges are now instructed to respond to Tuesday's order within five business days to show cause as to why they should be allowed to issue licenses.

One justice concurred in part - but concurs with the final ruling.

Only one, Justice Greg Shaw, dissented.

Susan Watson, executive director of the Alabama division of the American Civil Liberties Union, issued a statement Tuesday evening saying, "Our legal team is currently reviewing the Alabama Supreme Court's decision very carefully and we will issue a prepared statement tomorrow."

Click here for a comprehensive look at the marriage ban battle in Alabama.

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