Civil rights groups seek class action status, demand for marriage equality in Alabama

Milton Persinger, left, and Robert Povilat, both of Mobile, Ala., get married at Government Plaza as the Rev. Sandy O'Steen from Cornerstone Metropolitan Community Church officiates. They were the first same-sex couple to get married in Mobile, Ala., Thursday Feb. 12, 2015. Sharon Steinmann, Mobile Press-Register (AP)

Milton Persinger, left, and Robert Povilat, both of Mobile, Ala., get married at Government Plaza as the Rev. Sandy O'Steen from Cornerstone Metropolitan Community Church officiates. They were the first same-sex couple to get married in Mobile, Ala., Thursday Feb. 12, 2015. Sharon Steinmann, Mobile Press-Register (AP)

Milton Persinger, left, and Robert Povilat, both of Mobile, Ala., get married at Government Plaza as the Rev. Sandy O’Steen from Cornerstone Metropolitan Community Church officiates. They were the first same-sex couple to get married in Mobile, Ala., Thursday Feb. 12, 2015.

MOBILE, Ala. — A group of civil rights organizations has filed a motion asking a federal judge to order Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and to add plaintiffs to the suit challenging the state’s same-sex marriage ban.

The request, filed as part of a lawsuit brought by five same-sex couples who previously obtained an order from the same court requiring issuance of marriage licenses in Mobile County, seeks class-action status that would include all same-sex couples in Alabama who wish to marry and have their marriage recognized by the state.

The motion requests that the federal district court expand their lawsuit to cover all county probate judges in the state.

In Alabama, probate judges are responsible for issuing marriage licenses, and the filing asks the federal district court order to require all probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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The joint motion was filed by the Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center.

A federal judge in late January ruled that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. But the Alabama Supreme Court this week ordered probate judges to stop issuing licenses to same-sex couples, saying the state retains authority over state law, not a federal trial judge.

“If Alabama officials thought we were going to sit back and allow them to deny same-sex couples their constitutional right to marry, they thought wrong,” said Ayesha N. Khan, legal director of Americans United. “We are going to fight for these couples.

Read the motion here

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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