On Tuesday the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state’s probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples, adding yet another wrinkle to a messy situation. The story so far:
On January 23rd Federal District Judge Callie Granade struck down two Alabama state laws banning same-sex marriage.
On February 8th Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered state probate judges to ignore the Federal court ruling.
On February 9th the U.S. Supreme Court refused to stay the District Court’s decision, and on February 12th Judge Granade ordered the Mobile County Probate Judge to issue licenses to same-sex couples, and he and most Alabama judges complied.
On March 3rd, on a 7-1 ruling, with Chief Justice Roy Moore recusing himself, the Alabama Supreme Court issued a 138-page order for probate judges to cease granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
So why are Alabama judges standing in the courthouse door to prevent same-sex marriage, in defiance of a Federal court order? Is it … Jesus? Is it the Klan? Is this an echo of Alabama’s 33-year refusal to allow interracial marriage or some kind of nostalgia for the Confederacy?
Maybe. Mostly, it’s just politics. Alabama Supreme Court Judges are elected partisans, and their election depends on symbolic appeals to the state’s Republican Party base.
“Alabama Supreme Court Throws Tantrum, Defies Federal Judge, Halts Gay Marriages,” Mark Joseph Stern, Slate
“I Was Alabama’s Top Judge. I’m Ashamed by What I Had to Do to Get There.” Sue Bell Cobb, Politico Magazine
“John Oliver digs into the ‘horrifying spectacle’ of judicial elections,” Sarah Gray, Salon
“Alabama GOP proposes bill to let judges opt out of marrying gay couples — and Jews and Muslims too!” Jenny Kutner, Salon
“Ala. Bill Would Let Judges Opt Out Of Performing Gay Marriages,” Caitlin MacNeal, TPM Livewire
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Image by Mike Licht. Download a copy here. Creative Commons license; credit Mike Licht, NotionsCapital.com
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