Alabama chief justice tells judges they don’t have to issue gay marriage licenses

Roy Moore

Roy Moore

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama‘s chief justice, who famously refused to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state judicial building, has urged probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples even though a federal judge ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Roy Moore sent a letter to Alabama probate judges on Tuesday saying they are not bound by the ruling because they were not defendants in the lawsuit and have not been directly ordered to issue the licenses. He said the federal court did not have the authority to allow same-sex marriages.

“No federal judge, or court, should redefine marriage,” Moore said in an interview Wednesday.

Moore said state courts, including probate courts, have the authority to interpret the U.S. Constitution independently, just like lower federal courts do, and the U.S. Supreme Court will resolve disputes over those interpretations.

The fiery Republican judge is no stranger to controversial remarks about homosexuality and the decisions of federal judges.

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Moore was removed as Alabama chief justice in 2003 after he refused to obey what he called an “unlawful” federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the rotunda of the state judicial building. Moore in 2002 called homosexuality “an inherent evil” in ruling against a lesbian mother in a child custody case.

Moore, who was re-elected in 2012, said he sent the letter to offer advice to probate judges because of confusion over the federal ruling. However, a legal group that has clashed with Moore in the past says he is the one trying to incite chaos.

And Moore’s advice is contrary to that of the Alabama Probate Judges Association, which said last week that the decision is binding on the state’s probate judges.

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