Thursday, the Alabama House of Representatives approved a bill that would end the requirement that marriages must be solemnized with some sort of a ceremony and the state will no longer issue licenses giving two people permission to marry. Instead, the state will simply record that a marriage exists.
Senate Bill 69 is sponsored by state Senator Greg Albritton, R-Atmore.
Under Alabama law, marriages can only be between one man and one woman. The U.S. Supreme Court invalidated that centuries-old legal standard in the highly controversial 5-to-4 Obergefell v. Hodges decision in 2015.
SB69 ends the requirement that there has to be a marriage ceremony. A couple will simply fill out and sign the marriage forms, pay the recording fee, and the probate judge’s office will record that there is a marriage agreement between the two parties.
“All the state needs to do is ensure that a marriage is legally formed,” Albritton told a House Committee last month. “If you want to have a ceremony go to your pastor and have it in whatever form you want to do. This takes marriage out of the state purview.”
Under SB69 a couple wanting to enter into marriage no longer need to find a priest, pastor, judge, rabi, imam, or boat captain to officiate. Simply sign the papers and pay the recording fees, and the state will record that it exists.
Many Alabama probate judges found officiating at same-sex marriage ceremonies morally repugnant and an affront to God’s law. They no longer have to officiate any wedding ceremonies as part of their job.
Albritton said that his bill keeps the same fees in place. The fees become recording fees rather than marriage license fees. It also keeps the same distribution of fees.
State Rep. David Faulkner, R-Mountain Brook, said, “We were taking the politics out of it. All the state would have to do is issue the certificate.”
Sen. Albritton said, “This brings Alabama in conformity with federal law. The state law right now is not in conformity with Obergefell.”
The Foundation for Moral Law had opposed HB69.
Foundation President Emeritus, Roy Moore, stated: “SB69 is founded on a craven capitulation to an illegitimate Supreme Court decision that defiles the institution of marriage. All legislators of conscience should reject it. Alabama Supreme Court decisions, both before and after the Supreme Court’s Obergefell decision, require Alabama probate judges to respect the state Constitution’s definition of marriage as ‘a unique relationship between a man and a woman.’”
The legislation passed the House 67 tp 26.
Many Democrats voted against the measure; but did not actually speak against it on the floor as there was an agreement between the two parties’ leaderships to speed things up and pass as much legislation as possible on Thursday. The normally “talkative” Representatives John Rogers, D-Birmingham, and Juandalynn Givan, D-Birmingham, had business elsewhere Thursday afternoon.
SB69 has already passed the Senate and now goes to the Governor’s desk.