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

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U.S. District Judge Callie Granade’s order striking down the state’s ban on gay marriage will go into effect Monday unless the U.S. Supreme Court grants Alabama’s request for a delay. Gay couples are expected to apply for marriage licenses across Alabama that day.

Granade clarified her first order, saying the judges have a constitutional duty to issue the licenses. But she stopped short of ordering them to do so.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, the group that filed the complaint that led to Moore’s ouster in 2003, filed a new judicial ethics complaint over his comments about the gay marriage ruling.

“Justice Moore is, I think, a dangerous person. He’s created a crisis in the state before. He just seems hell-bent determined to do it again,” said Richard Cohen, president of the SPLC.

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Cohen said judges who refuse to issue licenses risk being sued and were being led into “very, very hot water by suggesting they ignore Judge Granade’s order.”

But Moore said it was his duty as head of the court system to try to help judges sort out the issues.

“I can’t tell them how to think. I can’t tell them how to interpret the Constitution. I can say that they are obliged to follow the Alabama Constitution and nothing prevents that,” Moore said.

“To disobey the Alabama Constitution would be to ignore the 81 percent of the people in this state that adopted the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment,” he said.

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