By Bill Britt
Alabama Political Reporter
MONTGOMERY—A hastily arranged teleconference was called Sunday afternoon so that the Alabama Probate Judges Association could clarify its position on the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in light of a federal judge’s ruling on Friday.
Probate Judge Greg Norris, President of the Alabama Probate Judges Association said that the Association was advised by legal council that the order given by US District Court Judge Callie Granade, did not give state probate judges the right to issue marriage license to same-sex couples.
Montgomery attorney Al Agricola, who represents the association, said that the case in which Judge Granade ruled Alabama same-sex marriage laws as unconditional, only applied to the parties listed in the suit. On Friday, Judge Granade ruled that Alabama’s marriage laws prohibiting marriage of same-sex couples violates the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
The association has advised its members not to issue licenses to same-sex couples, but Agricola, said that each individual probate judge is permitted to use his or her own discretion.
Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven L. Reed took to twitter on Sunday afternoon announcing, “Unless the federal judge issues a stay, then MGM Probate Court will issue a license to ANY couple that wants to be married.”
In response to the Alabama Probate Judges Association, that license should not be issued, Equality Alabama (EA), Human Rights Campaign (HRC), The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama (ACLU) and The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC), in a joint statement said, “Judge Granade’s order is immediate and applies statewide in Alabama. Absent a stay, Alabama Constitution Article I, 36.03 and Alabama Code 30-1-19, which prohibit same-sex marriage are no longer valid.”
Attorney General Luther Strange asked for a stay of Judge Granade’s order until the US Supreme Court makes its ruling on cases involving same-sex marriage sometime in late June. Agricola said that it was in the best interest of the State’s probate judges as well as couple who wish to marry, to wait for the high court’s ruling.
On Sunday evening, Judge Grande granted a 14-day stay as requested by Attorney General Luther Strange.
Groups advocating for same-sex marriage continued that Judge Granade’s ruling places a constitutional obligation on probate judges throughout Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.