MONTGOMERY, Ala. — As courts throughout Alabama are set to begin issuing “marriage” licenses today to homosexuals, several judges throughout the state have vowed to uphold Alabama’s Constitution and defy a ruling striking down the state’s Sanctity of Marriage Act.
As previously reported, in 2013, two lesbians in the state sued Gov. Bentley, Attorney General Luther Strange and Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis—among others—in an attempt to overturn the law after one of the women was denied from adopting the other woman’s child. Last month, U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade declared the voter-approved state amendment unconstitutional.
“If anything, Alabama’s prohibition of same-sex marriage detracts from its goal of promoting optimal environments for children,” she wrote. “Those children currently being raised by same-sex parents in Alabama are just as worthy of protection and recognition by the state as are the children being raised by opposite-sex parents. Yet Alabama’s Sanctity laws harms the children of same-sex couples for the same reasons that the Supreme Court found that the Defense of Marriage Act harmed the children of same-sex couples.”
As an appeal was denied in the matter, Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore, also known as the Ten Commandments Judge, sent a letter and memorandum to probate judges throughout the state, advising them that they are not required to issue “marriage” licenses to same-sex couples despite Grenade’s ruling.
“Lower federal courts are without authority to impose their own interpretation of federal constitutional law upon the state courts,” he wrote. “Not only is the Mobile federal court acting without constitutional authority, but it is doing so in a manner inconsistent with the Eleventh Amendment to the United States Constitution.”
Now, at least five probate judges in the state are vowing to uphold the Alabama Constitution and refuse to take part in same-sex nuptials.
“I’m not going to be a party to it,” Geneva County Probate Judge Fred Hamic told the Associated Press. “I was raised in a Christian home, and I was taught that it is a sin.”
“[T]he undersigned probate judge will continue to abide by his oath of office as supported by his constituents and guided by the Alabama Supreme Court, and will only issue marriage licenses and solemnize ceremonies consistent with Alabama law and the U.S. Constitution; namely, between one man and one woman only, so help me God,” wrote Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams in a statement on Friday.
Clarke County Probate Judge Valerie Davis has promised the same.
“I do not think I am required to compromise my religious beliefs to be probate judge,” she wrote in a statement. “Alabama law does not mandate me to issue marriage licenses to anyone of any gender.”
Chilton County Judge Bobby Martin told reporters that while he will issue licenses, he will not officiate ceremonies.
“I believe that marriage is between a man and a woman, and because of that, I will not perform a ceremony for a couple that doesn’t fit in that criteria,” he said.
Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen said that he will likewise issue licenses, but is removing himself entirely from the wedding business.
“I’m not required to do that,” he told the Montgomery Advertiser. “Some judges will choose to continue performing marriages and they can continue to do that.”
In an opinion piece written last month, Enslen stated that homosexual behavior is “repugnant and repulsive to God.”
“In other words, I believe Sodom and Gomorrah were destroyed for just such unnatural conduct between the same sexes,” he wrote.
AL.com reported on Saturday that it is possible that judges who refuse to comply with Grenade’s ruling may face sanctions.
“If the court issues an order and they refuse to comply with the order, then the court can find them in contempt of court, which could result in a fine or incarceration until they purge themselves of the contempt,” former U.S. District Court Judge U.W. Clemon told the outlet, but added, “I don’t think that’s likely to happen.”
But on Sunday, Moore issued an order prohibiting probate judges in the state from issuing or recognizing same-sex “marriage” licenses.
“Effective immediately, no probate judge of the State of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975,” he wrote.
Matt Staver of the Christian legal organization Liberty Counsel said that Moore is correct in his assessment as Grenade’s decision only applies to the two lesbians who were parties to the suit, and not the entire state.
“Outside that, that order is not binding,” he said. “I think this judge by pretending to require everyone to issue same sex marriage licenses on Monday is far outside her jurisdiction and authority.”