Probate Office not to issue same-sex licenses

Published 3:00 am Tuesday, January 27, 2015

The Pike County Probate Office won’t issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples unless or until state law changes, Judge Wes Allen said Monday.

“In accordance with current Alabama law, the Pike County Probate Office will not issue marriage licenses to same sex couples,” Allen said in a statement he first released Sunday via Twitter. “The recent Federal Court ruling on same sex adoption issued by Judge Granade of the Southern District of Alabama does not require this Probate Judge’s office to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples.”

Judge Callie Granade on Friday struck down Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages. On Sunday afternoon, she granted a 14-day stay on that ruling, giving the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals until Feb. 9 to decide whether the ruling should stand.

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Attorney General Luther Strange appealed the ruling to the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta and requested the court put Granade’s decision on hold until the U.S. Supreme Court resolves the issue later this year.

“My office has filed an appeal and a motion to stay the federal District Court’s decision and we are preparing our case to defend Alabama’s laws prohibiting same-sex marriage,” Strange said in a prepared statement.

“Unfortunately, the District Court’s ruling to strike down Alabama’s marriage laws has created uncertainty and confusion among the public over the law. My office has moved quickly to bring the issue before the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals to ensure that Alabama’s laws are defended. Ultimately, the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to address the issue of same-sex marriage in a few months.”

Strange also said in a press release that allowing same-sex marriages in Alabama before an official ruling was released would only cause confusion for same-sex couples choosing to get married.

Allen said that potential for confusion played into his decision to follow current state law, as did the fact that the case that prompted Granade’s ruling is a same-sex adoption case from a different county.

“It was a same sex adoption case in the southern district,” Allen said. “This county was not a party to the case.”

And, although, Probate Judges across the state have stated they would be willing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Allen said it was his duty as Probate Judge to continue upholding and enforcing the laws as they are stated.

“I am elected by the people of Pike County as Probate Judge,” Allen said. “Part of my duties is to uphold the law and the law on this matter has not changed.”

Granade has said she planned to issue a separate order before the stay ends to clarify the effect of her ruling on those seeking and issuing marriage licenses across Alabama.