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Marriage licenses still available

The Crenshaw County Probate Office will continue to issue both same-sex and traditional marriage licenses despite an administrative order issued last Wednesday by the Alabama chief justice.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore’s administrative order calls for all state probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses contrary to the state’s Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or Marriage Protection act.

“What we’re doing is nothing different than what we’ve been doing since the Supreme Court ruled back in June. We had a stay where we didn’t issue any while all of the appeal processes went on, but once the appeals were done with the federal courts we’ve been issuing licenses since then,” said Crenshaw County Probate Judge William Tate. “Unless something changes, we will continue to issue them.”

In January of 2015, U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade of Mobile ruled that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

In March 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an order enjoining probate judges from issuing same-sex licenses contrary to Alabama law. The ruling came at the request of the Alabama Citizens Action Program and the Alabama Policy Institute, as well as Elmore County Probate Judge John Enslen.

In June 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order effectively striking down state bans on same-sex marriages.

In his ruling on Wednesday, Moore cites conflicts between the state ruling, federal appellate court rulings since June, and the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, saying there “confusion and uncertainty” among probate judges because the court has not issued any briefs on how to proceed.

He also questions whether the U.S. Supreme Court ruling applies to Alabama, as the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the case invalidated only same-sex marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee.

Moore said in his ruling because the Alabama Supreme Court has never lifted the March directive, it remains “in full force.”

Most judges in Alabama’s 67 counties, including Butler County, are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Judges in nine counties have shut down license operations altogether to avoid doing so.

Tate stated that this order had no effect on his office because they have not changed their course of action since the original Supreme Court ruling.

Unlike the neighboring county of Pike, which discontinued the issuing of any marriage licenses, Crenshaw County will continue to perform its duties as established by the government. “Marriage is clearly defined in the Bible. God established and blessed the institution of marriage between one man and one woman. God’s definition hasn’t changed, and I completely agree with God,” said Tate. “As far as being the Probate Judge, I am bound to follow the orders that have been handed down; it’s an administrative function of the office. We have been and will continue to issue licenses.”