AL Supreme Court tosses petitions opposing same-sex marriage

Published: Mar. 4, 2016 at 4:12 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 15, 2016 at 2:46 PM CDT
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MONTGOMERY, AL (WAFF) - The Alabama Supreme Court issued an order Friday dismissing current petitions objecting to the U.S. high court's legalization of same-sex marriages.

The 170-page document dismisses petitions filed by the Alabama Policy Institute, Alabama Citizens Action Program, and John Enslen, Probate Judge for Elmore County, who fought to maintain that the state's earlier ban on same-sex marriages could still be enforced.

The ruling said while the court may not agree with the Supreme Court's decision last spring, there is no legal way around it.

In Friday's order, the court writes that "our decision today refuses to grant the relief requested and should not be construed to mean anything else."

A decision by this court cannot stop the issuance of federally-mandated same-sex government-marriage licenses; as... previously expressed, this Court has never been in a position definitively to rule on whether Alabama's laws prohibiting [same-sex licenses] were constitutional.

...If anyone believes that this Court can issue a ruling on these requests that would allow our probate judges to legally continue Alabama's prohibition on the issuance of same-sex government-marriage licenses, such belief is refuted by 200 years of law and practice. We can express our well founded frustration at the unprecedented nature of [the U.S. Supreme Court order legalizing same-sex marriages nationwide], but we cannot stop its effect.

The court's order Friday affirms the court cannot and will not do anything to allow state probate court judges to ignore a federal court injunction and a Supreme Court decision.

Perhaps the most interesting line of the ruling seems to be a swipe at Chief Justice Roy Moore on page 159, saying, "if a judge finds that he or she cannot abide by a controlling decision from a higher court, that judge should resign from office."

You can read the full document here (PDF).

Human Rights Advocate Tom Willett said same sex couples in Alabama will no longer have to fear their marriage rights might be taken away again.

"It means same sex marriage is legal, it has been since June, but they don't have to worry about the big guillotine hanging over their neck from the Alabama supreme court," Willett said.

Willett said slowly but surely, Alabama is becoming more accepting.

"Even though Alabama is probably the reddest state in the union, I think the acceptance and tolerance and understanding of human rights and people is becoming first and foremost," Willett said.

In a statement, the Sanctity of Marriage Alabama said Alabama officials should continue to acknowledge the fact that marriage is between one man and one woman.

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