Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore on
Wednesday issued an administrative order calling on judges to stop
issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples.
Moore, an outspoken opponent of
marriage equality, said that probate judges, who in Alabama issue
such licenses, have a “ministerial duty” to comply with a
voter-approved constitutional amendment and a state law that define
marriage as a heterosexual union.
“Until further order by the Alabama
Supreme Court, the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court that
Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any
marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage
Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act remain in full force
and effect,” he wrote.
The probate court in Mobile County,
among the busiest in the state, quickly responded, saying on its
website that it was “not issuing marriage licenses to any
applicants until further notice.”
That probate office was involved in
litigation last year which resulted in a federal judge issuing an
injunction ordering probate judges in the state to issue marriage
licenses to gay couples.
Moore's move comes roughly six months
after the Supreme Court in Obergefell v. Hodges ruled that gay
couples have a constitutional right to marry.
Ronald Krotoszynski, a law professor at
the University of Alabama, told The
New York Times that Moore's order “constitutes an exercise
“At best, it sows chaos and
confusion, at worst, it forces couples to bring federal court
litigation in order to exercise a clearly established federal
constitutional right,” he wrote in an email.