Alabama's Supreme Court just moved to block same-sex marriages in the state, with the justification that it is not yet clear whether last year's federal Supreme Court case upholding same-sex marriage applies in the state.
In an administrative order issued today, the state's Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said judges and clerks have a duty not to issue same-sex marriage licenses:
"Many probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in accordance with Obergefell; others are issuing marriage licenses only to couples of the opposite gender or have ceased issuing all marriage licenses," Moore wrote in the order, according to the Decatur Daily.
The Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act define marriage as an institution only for heterosexual couples. In his ruling, Moore said he thinks the federal court's decision last year may not specifically apply to Alabama. He referred to an Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals ruling last year that said the federal decision only clearly struck down laws against gay marriage in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio, and Tennessee–and not explicitly in other states.
In July, U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade issued an order re-iterating that marriage licenses must be issued to both heterosexual and same-sex couples after cases in some Alabama counties where same-sex couples were being denied licenses.
"In no way does his administrative order supersede Judge Granade's federal injunction prohibiting probate judges from enforcing discriminatory Alabama marriage laws," said Scott McCoy, senior staff attorney for the Southern Poverty Law Center, in a statement. "If probate judges violate the injunction, they can be held in contempt. This is Moore yet again confusing his role as chief justice with his personal anti-LGBT agenda,"