The Slatest

Federal Judge Orders Alabama Officials to Issue Same-Sex Marriage Licenses  

Federal judge orders Alabama judges to stop messing around. Roll tide.

Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

After several days of confusion in Alabama over whether or not judges in the state would issue marriage license to gay couples, a federal judge on Thursday ordered a state official to begin issuing the licenses. Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages was recently ruled unconstitutional by a federal judge, similar to recent federal rulings on other states’ marriage amendments. Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, however, issued a ruling of his own over the weekend instructing officials in the state not to issue same-sex marriage licenses because they run afoul of state law.


Chaos ensued. “Probate judges in 23 of Alabama’s 67 counties have been issuing marriage licenses to gay couples,” according to the New York Times. “Licenses were being handed out only to straight couples in 18 counties, and no marriage licenses at all are being issued in 26 counties.”

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade weighed in again on Thursday, issuing a second order, to try to clarify what legal obligations local probate judges have in issuing marriage licenses in the state of Alabama. The order, which reaffirmed that it was unlawful to deny gay couples wedding licenses, was directed at one particular county judge who had sought legal guidance from the court, but was clearly intended as a signal to all judges in the state.