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In his dissent, Shaw said it was “unfortunate” that federal courts refused to delay gay marriage in the state until the U.S. Supreme Court could settle the issue nationally. But, Shaw said, the state Supreme Court doesn’t have the power to consider the issue and is creating more confusion by “venturing into unchartered waters” (sic) outside its jurisdiction.
The court released the decision while Gov. Robert Bentley and most state leaders were assembled in Montgomery for the state of the state address. A spokeswoman for Bentley said the administration was reviewing the decision and had no immediate comment.
The court’s ruling came in response to a request from the Southern Baptist-affiliated Alabama Citizens Action Program and the Alabama Policy Institute, a conservative think tank, which asked the justices to halt same-sex unions.
Joe Godfrey, executive director of the Alabama Citizens Action Program, said he was very excited about the decision.
“We are concerned about the family and the danger that same-sex marriage will have. It will be a devastating blow to the family, which is already struggling,” Godfrey said. He said the decision will provide some stability in Alabama until the U.S Supreme Court rules later this year. The nation’s high court will hear oral arguments in April and is expected to issue a ruling by June regarding whether gay couples nationwide have a fundamental right to marry and whether states can ban such unions.
An attorney representing couples who filed suit to allow gay marriages in the state said the Alabama Supreme Court showed “callous disregard” and overstepped its bounds by declaring the state’s ban on same-sex marriages constitutional, something she said the justices hadn’t been asked to consider.