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Thursday, June 20, 2024 | Back issues
Courthouse News Service Courthouse News Service

Federal Judge Clarifies Gay Marriage Ruling

(CN) - Same-sex marriage licenses are now being issued in Mobile County, Ala., after a federal judge issued an order on Thursday.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade confirmed a previous ruling declaring the state's ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In the Thursday ruling, Granade succinctly wrote that the Alabama laws prohibiting same-sex marriage are "unconstitutional because they violate the Due Process Clause and the Equal Protection Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment."

Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis had refused to issue marriage licenses throughout the week after Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore had issued an order on Sunday instructing probate judges not to comply with the previous federal ruling.

According to Granade's ruling, Davis indicated on Monday that the "Marriage License Section of the Court's Recording Division would remain closed pending further instructions from the United States District Court and the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court."

The current suit was brought by four same-sex couples who live in Mobile and had been "denied the right to a legal marriage under the laws of Alabama."

The court's previous injunction in the matter prohibiting the enforcement of the state's same-sex marriage ban was "initially stayed, but went into effect on Monday." In an amended complaint filed on Tuesday, Davis was added as a defendant.

A similar action was filed in the Mobile Federal Court, on Monday after another group of same-sex couples sought marriage licenses and were told that "the Probate Court of Mobile County would not open the marriage license office."

In her Thursday ruling, Granade granted the plaintiffs' emergency motion for preliminary injunction, saying "the Plaintiffs have met their burden for issuance of a preliminary injunction against the enforcement of state marriage laws prohibiting same-sex marriage."

Further, the ruling stated that if "all steps that are required in the normal course of business as a prerequisite to issuing a marriage license to opposite-sex couples, Judge Davis may not deny them a license on the ground that Plaintiffs constitute same-sex couples."

Following the ruling, the marriage license window reportedly reopened, and a number of same-sex couples were able to finally get their marriage licenses.

Same-sex marriage advocates hope the ruling will provide guidance for other probate judges across the state.

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