News (USA)

Federal judge: Issue same-sex marriage licenses in Alabama when stay expires

MONTGOMERY, Ala. — The federal judge that overturned Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban said probate judges should begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples when the hold she put on her ruling expires next month.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade
U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

A legal group, meanwhile, said Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore should be removed from office for repeatedly criticizing the ruling and saying it does not dictate what Alabama probate judges do.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed a complaint with Alabama’s Judicial Inquiry Commission saying Moore violated the state’s rules of conduct for Alabama judges when he called U.S. District Judge Callie Granade’s ruling overturning the gay-marriage ban “judicial tyranny” and said it was issued without constitutional authority.

The Montgomery-based law center filed a complaint against Moore in 2003 over his defiance of a federal judge’s order to remove his Ten Commandments monument from the lobby of the state judicial building. That complaint led to a state court for judges removing Moore from office for violating Alabama’s rules of conduct for judges.

“We hope the result is the same this time,” law center President Richard Cohen said Wednesday.

Moore, who was re-elected chief justice in 2012, said, his remarks weren’t meant to spark a confrontation, but were meant to explain his position as chief administrator of Alabama’s courts, including probate courts that issue marriage licenses.

“I will defend this state and the integrity of our courts against an unlawful and intrusive order of a federal judge,” he said in an interview.

The law center fights for the rights of minorities and is handling a separate gay-marriage case pending in federal court in Montgomery.

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In two cases on Friday and Monday, respectively, Granade ruled against Alabama’s constitutional amendment defining marriage as being between one man and one woman. The judge stayed her ruling until Feb. 9 to give the state attorney general time to appeal.

In a letter to the governor and in interviews Tuesday, Moore called the judge’s ruling “an infringement upon the definition of marriage” and said it has no legal force in Alabama’s courts.

Cohen said that violates Alabama’s rule against judges commenting on pending cases or cases that might come before them and a rule against judges undermining public confidence in the judiciary.

The chief justice said he will issue a letter to probate judges before Granade’s stay ends Feb. 9, and it will say that rulings by federal district judges don’t control what Alabama courts do.

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