Alabama on Monday became the 37th
state, plus the District of Columbia, where gay and lesbian couples
can marry after the Supreme Court refused to delay implementation of
two rulings striking down the state's ban on gay marriage.
The highest court responded to the
state's request just minutes before courthouses were set to open.
In a strongly-worded dissent, Associate
Justice Clarence Thomas, who oversees states in the Eleventh Circuit
Court of Appeals, including Alabama, said that he and Justice Antonin
Scalia disagreed with the majority.
“I respectfully dissent from the
denial of this application,” Thomas wrote. “I would have shown
the people of Alabama the respect they deserve and preserve the
status quo while the Court resolves this important constitutional
question,” Thomas wrote.
Among the first to be issued a marriage
license were Tori Sisson and Shante Wofe of Tuskegee, who camped
outside the Montgomery County courthouse to be first in line when the
courthouse doors opened.
Several judges, however, were resisting
the order, siding with Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, who argues
that federal district court's opinions “do not bind the state
courts of Alabama but only serve as persuasive authority.”
Moore on Sunday ordered probate judges
not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
Chief Justice Roy Moore orders judges not to issue marriage licenses
to gay couples.)
Probate judges in Covington,
Washington, Calhoun, Tuscaloosa and Clarke counties have said that
they will not issue such licenses.
“I do not think I am required to
compromise my religious beliefs to be Probate Judge,” Clarke County
Probate Judge Valerie Davis said in a statement. “Alabama law does
not mandate me to issue marriage licenses to anyone of any gender.”
“I'm not worried about following the
U.S. Constitution,” Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams