Legislature a step away from abolishing marriage licenses

By Josh Moon
Alabama Political Reporter

Alabama is one step closer to the elimination of marriage licenses.

The House Judiciary Committee on Wednesday, voting straight down party lines, moved forward a bill that would abolish the licenses. The bill, which has already passed the Senate, now goes to the full House for approval.

It did not go without criticism.

Reps. Merika Coleman and Juandalynn Givan spent several minutes grilling the bill’s sponsor, Sen. Greg Albritton, and pointing out the flaws of the bill. Their primary complaint was easy to identify: the bill potentially creates a number of problems for State citizens while actually changing almost nothing.

Under Albritton’s bill, while the new form would be called a “marriage certificate” instead of a “marriage license,” it would still be recorded by the probate office and the people getting married would still receive a copy of the certificate.

“We all know what’s really going on here,” Givan said. “Y’all have passed all these laws for the preacher, the baker, the candlestick maker and they all do one thing – protect somebody’s beliefs. We’re now into things that just don’t make sense.”

State lawmakers have been searching for changes to the marriage licenses since the US Supreme Court ruled two years ago that same-sex marriage is legal. Since that ruling a number of State probate judges have refused to issue marriage licenses at all.

During the debate, Coleman said there were six probate judges still refusing.

“We’re going to create all of these problems to appease a few people,” Coleman said. “I have beliefs too. I chose not to impose them on anyone else and do my job.”

The primary concern regarding the bill – one that even other Republicans on the committee admitted they have – is that it will cause confusion and significant issues with people dealing with out-of-state issues. The example brought up repeatedly was military members who marry in Alabama and then need an official State marriage license when moved from base to base.

Albritton said he believes he has alleviated those concerns by ensuring the document reads: “Marriage license.”

To which Coleman said, “Then what’s the point of all this? I’m so sick of this body passing things that do nothing. This doesn’t change a thing but someone somewhere gets to say they done something, when they didn’t do anything. We have to stop this.”

 

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