Updated: 6:00 p.m. CST
MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama‘s stand against same-sex marriage crumbled Friday as judges in most counties sided with federal courts rather than their own chief justice, a Republican who once called homosexuality an inherent evil.
Many counties in the Bible Belt state began issuing the licenses to same-sex couples after the latest strongly worded order from U.S. District Judge Callie Granade. She said Thursday that a judge could no longer deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians, reiterating her ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.
“These numbers represent a seismic shift in favor of equality and justice. Resistance to happy, loving and committed same-sex couples getting married is quickly crumbling throughout the state,” said Fred Sainz, a top spokesman for the Human Rights Campaign.
Granade’s ruling enabling same-sex couples to obtain licenses went into effect Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene. But even then, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore said county judges were not bound by her decision.
“It’s my duty to speak up when I see the jurisdiction of our courts being intruded by unlawful federal authority,” Moore insisted in an interview with The Associated Press later Monday.
Fewer that 12 of Alabama’s 67 counties allowed gays and lesbians to wed on Monday. By Friday that number had jumped to at least 47, according to a count by the HRC. Several others said they would begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples on Monday.
Granade’s ruling made Alabama the 37th state where gays and lesbians can legally wed. It also continued her family legacy of bringing sweeping change to a place where many people didn’t yet welcome it.
Her grandfather was Richard Rives, a federal appellate judge whose rulings helped desegregate the South despite resistance to the Civil Rights movement in the 1950s and 1960s.
“Judge Rives, my grandfather, really is my personal hero,” Granade said during her 2001 Senate confirmation hearing. She denied then that “judicial activism” describes what her grandfather did – or what she might do.
“The issues on which he more or less broke with precedent were ones which really flew in the face of the Constitution,” she said. “I think a judge will always be correct if the decisions that he or she makes are consistent with the plain language of the Constitution.”