Post submitted by Hubert Tate, former HRC Press Secretary, Project One America
As of noon today, HRC Alabama was unable to confirm any Alabama counties that are issuing licenses to same-sex couples, in the wake of an order by the Alabama Supreme Court late Tuesday night. This turn around comes as the result of the confusion created by an emergency petition to the Alabama Supreme Court by two anti-LGBT groups, the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program, who sought to stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses.
Before the latest development, 48 counties of Alabama’s 67 counties were following the order of a federal judge and issuing licenses to all couples as of February 18th.
“Because of the Alabama Supreme Court's willingness to ignore their oath of office, all Alabama's counties appear to be in conflict with the intent of a federal court order,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow. "This is only a temporary setback on the road to equality, but the message it sends to LGBT Alabamians is despicable.”
Confirmed Counties Issuing Licenses to same-sex couples: 0 counties.
Counties that are NO LONGER issuing to same-sex couples as of 3/4/2015: Autauga, Baldwin, Barbour, Blount, Butler, Calhoun, Cherokee, Chilton, Coffee, Colbert, Conecuh, Coosa, Cullman, Dale, Dallas, DeKalb, Elmore, Etowah, Fayette, Franklin, Greene, Hale, Henry, Jackson, Jefferson, Lauderdale, Lawrence, Lee, Limestone, Lowndes, Madison, Mobile, Montgomery, Morgan, Perry, Russell, St. Clair, Talladega, Tallapoosa, Tuscaloosa, Wilcox and Winston.
Counties where status is unclear as of 3/4/2015: Bullock, Crenshaw, Lamar, Macon, Monroe and Sumter.
Counties that were NEVER issuing licenses to same-sex couples: Bibb, Chambers, Choctaw, Clarke, Clay, Cleburne, Covington, Escambia, Geneva, Houston, Marengo, Marion, Marshall, Pickens, Pike, Randolph, Shelby, Walker and Washington.
In the bizarre, rambling 150 page opinion, the majority on the state Supreme Court steps far beyond the complaint before it, arguing, “Throughout the entirety of its history, Alabama has chosen the traditional definition of marriage. […] Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law.”
Earlier this year, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade ruled in favor of equality in Searcy v. Strange, striking down Alabama’s discriminatory constitutional amendment banning same-sex couples from marrying. Since then, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore has campaigned vocally against marriage equality. Last month, HRC Alabama submitted 28,000 petitions to the Judicial Inquiry Commission, urging a full ethics investigation of the Chief Justice.
Stay tuned as HRC continues to track the situation on the ground.