By Brandon Moseley
Alabama Political Reporter
On Wednesday, January 28, the Alabama Probate Judges Association released a written statement reversing their earlier position that the controversial ruling striking down Alabama’s Constitutional ban on same sex marriage somehow did not apply to them. The probate judges affirm that if Judge Granade’s two week stay is not extended, then same-sex couples will be eligible to apply for and receive marriage licenses in the State of Alabama after all.
The Probate Judges Association wrote in their statement on Wednesday, “After review of Judge Granade’s clarification of her earlier ruling, it is the opinion of the Alabama Probate Judges Association that the ruling in the Searcy case now applies to Probate Judges in Alabama.” Earlier this week, Federal District Judge Callie “Ginny” Granade issued a clarification of her ruling making it clear that she intended for her order to apply to the entire State and was not limited to the two parties in the law suit exclusively.
Monroe County Probate Judge and the association’s President, Greg Norris stated that, “It is the opinion of the Association, on the advice of legal counsel, that until the stay is lifted, probate judges cannot issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. However, on the occasion that the stay is lifted, same sex couples may apply for marriage licenses.”
Judge Norris said that the Probate Judges Association has always and will always encourage its members to follow the law.
The Association wrote that the forms that are required to be completed by individuals seeking marriage licenses may need to be modified to accommodate same-sex applicants. Those forms are created and distributed by the Alabama Department of Public Health through the Office of Vital Statistics. Norris says the Alabama Probate Judges Association has been in contact with the Department of Health to discuss the potential changes to those forms.
Alabama’s Probate Judges are elected in all 67 counties in Alabama and are statutorily given the responsibility of issuing and recording marriage licenses.
Some of the individual Probate Judges had already publicly voiced their disagreement with the Association’s interpretation of the ruling and said that they would issue the same sex marriage licenses once the two week stay expired.
On Tuesday, popular Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore (R) sent a public letter to Alabama Governor Robert Bentley (R) applauding the Saturday decision by the association and denouncing what he called, “Judicial tyranny.”
On Wednesday, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) filed an ethics complaint accusing the Chief Justice of acting in a non-ethical way and urging that he be removed from office for his advice to the probate judges among other issues.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange (R) has asked the Federal Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals to extend Judge Granade’s stay.
The same-sex marriage issue is expected to be addressed and resolved in a future US Supreme Court ruling by June.