Alabama Chief Justice Efforts to Block Marriage Equality Barred by July Federal Court Order

Affiliate: ACLU of Alabama
January 6, 2016 5:30 pm

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MONTGOMERY, Ala. – Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an administrative order today attempting to block the implementation of the U.S. Supreme Court’s historic marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.

The order was issued by Moore in his capacity as Administrative Head of the Unified Judicial System of Alabama and purports to clarify that state probate court judges must continue to enforce Alabama’s obsolete bans and stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

The American Civil Liberties Union and several other advocacy groups had challenged these laws in multiple lawsuits filed in 2014 and 2015, including Strawser v. Strange, a lawsuit filed in the Southern District of Alabama.

After nationwide marriage equality was established, the Southern District of Alabama Federal Court issued an order on July 1, 2015 clarifying that an earlier injunction striking down Alabama’s marriage bans prevents a probate judge from denying a license to same-sex couples based upon Alabama’s laws.

The following comment can be attributed to Susan Watson, executive director of the ACLU of Alabama:

“The law is clear and well-settled in Alabama as it is across the country. Bans on marriage for same-sex couples are unconstitutional. Moore’s directive doesn’t hold water because there’s a valid federal court injunction issued July 1, 2015 that we expect probate judges across the state to comply with, overriding anything issued by the Alabama Supreme Court. We hope that this page in our history of singling out gay and lesbian couples and families for discrimination and humiliation will soon be behind us.”

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