Last month a federal judge struck down Alabama’s ban on gay marriage and now this month Alabama’s Chief Justice finally responded by sending a message to his state’s judges… and boy, has it caused controversy.
Chief Justice Moore told his states judges that they should not contravene state law because of a federal judge’s ruling. He further said that only the Supreme Court could overturn their state’s ban on gay marriage.
Here’s what Moore wrote in a memo to his fellow Alabama judges.
The purpose of this memorandum is to provide guidance to the probate judges of Alabama as to their duties under Alabama’s Sanctity of Marriage Amendment (“the Amendment”), Art. I, § 36.03, Ala. Const. 1901, and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act (“the Act”), § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975, in light of the recent orders of the United States District Court for the Southern District of Alabama. A news story has quoted the Honorable Greg Norris, President of the Alabama Probate Judges Association, as saying: “I don’t think I have had a week like this in my life.” I hope this memorandum will 1 assist weary, beleaguered, and perplexed probate judges to unravel the meaning of the actions of the federal district court in Mobile, namely that the rulings in the marriage cases do not require you to issue marriage licenses that are illegal under Alabama law.
Moore followed his memo up with a letter further clarifying his position.
“While my disagreement with Judge Granade’s orders in the cases attacking Alabama marriage law has been criticized as ‘religious,’ ‘defiant,’ and ‘unethical,’ my actions are entirely consistent with my responsibility as Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court… Marriage has long been recognized as a divine institution ordained of God,” he wrote in the letter. “According to the United States Supreme Court, the basic foundation of marriage and family upon which our country rests is ‘the union for life of one man and one woman in the holy estate of matrimony.”