Civil rights groups blast Alabama judge’s order to uphold marriage ban

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore Tamir Kalifa, AP

Civil rights advocacy groups are speaking out against Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore after he issued an order saying probate judges have a “ministerial duty” not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.

Moore issued an administrative order Wednesday saying the Alabama Supreme Court never lifted a March directive to probate judges to refuse licenses to gay couples.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed new information in an ethics complaint against Moore to the Alabama Judicial Inquiry Commission, saying Moore has failed to respect and comply with the law as required by the Alabama Canons of Judicial Ethics.

Human Rights Campaign Legal Director Sarah Warbelow also called Moore an obstructionist in an emailed statement.

Moore said he wasn’t immediately able to comment.

Several Alabama probate judges have stopped issuing marriage licenses.

Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis says he closed the marriage license office to “ensure full compliance with all court rulings.”

Lawrence County Probate Judge Michael Praytor says he has sought the opinion of the county attorney, and will likely make a decision Thursday on how to proceed.

Chief Clerk of the Madison County Probate Patty Hanson says she’s also awaiting guidance from the county’s attorney.

Susan Watson, director of the ACLU of Alabama, called Moore’s order “silly” and said it wouldn’t change the fact that most Alabama judges are issuing licenses to gay couples.

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