HRC to Probate Judges: Ignore Lawless Moore, Follow the Constitution, Issue Licenses

by HRC Staff

MONTGOMERY—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.

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