A large majority of Alabama counties
either are refusing to issue marriage licenses to gay couples or have
suspended issuing all marriage licenses after two federal rulings
striking down the state's ban on gay marriage took effect on Monday.
According to AL.com, only 9 counties –
Madison, Etowah, Jefferson, Fayette, Chilton, Montgomery, Lowndes,
Crenshaw and Coffee – out of 63 are issuing marriage licenses to
gay couples. The status of four counties was undetermined.
Ten counties are refusing to issue
marriage licenses to gay couples, while the remainder have either
suspended issuing all marriage licenses or are only accepting
applications. Several counties have also stopped offering courthouse
The Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC),
which supports marriage equality, noted that the 9 counties issuing
marriage licenses regardless of sexual orientation represent nearly
40 percent of the state's population.
The confusion stems from an order
issued Sunday by Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore. Moore
ordered probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples,
arguing that federal district court's opinions “do not bind the
state courts of Alabama but only serve as persuasive authority.”
Republican Governor Robert Bentley said
in a statement that he supports the probate judges and will not
“This issue has created confusion
with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama,” Bentley
wrote. “Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state,
and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate
Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue. We
will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same
sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.”
UPDATE: Three additional counties –
Morgan, Limestone and Elmore – on Tuesday began issuing marriage
licenses to gay couples.