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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley won’t stop probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples

LGBT Legal Cases Marriage equality Marriage Equality Trials

Governor Bentley issued a press release:

“The issue of same sex marriage will be finally decided by the U.S. Supreme Court later this year,” Governor Robert Bentley said. “I have great respect for the legal process, and the protections that the law provides for our people. I am disappointed that a single Federal court judge disregarded the vote of the Alabama people to define marriage as between a man and woman.

“I agree with the dissenting opinion from U.S. Supreme Court Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia when they stated, ‘Today’s decision represents yet another example of this Court’s cavalier attitude toward the States. Over the past few months, the Court has repeatedly denied stays of lower court judgments enjoining the enforcement of state laws on questionable constitutional grounds.’

“This issue has created confusion with conflicting direction for Probate Judges in Alabama. Probate Judges have a unique responsibility in our state, and I support them. I will not take any action against Probate Judges, which would only serve to further complicate this issue.

“We will follow the rule of law in Alabama, and allow the issue of same sex marriage to be worked out through the proper legal channels.”

This is in stark contrast with Chief Justice Roy Moore’s memo ordering probate judges not to issue licenses.

82 Comments

  • 1. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:56 am

    In order to be kept up to date :
    https://www.google.com/fusiontables/DataSource?do

  • 2. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 10:57 am

    Oh yeah and Brian Brown (of NOM? Remember them?) said something. Nobody cared.
    https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/564859948

  • 3. Scottie Thomaston  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:00 am

    I vaguely remember that guy. He said that thing that one time and then went a few million dollars in debt and stuff I think.

  • 4. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:04 am

    Oh Moore found a little friend who joins him calling for defiance against the federal constitution.How cute..! Maybe he hopes that he will help him pay some of his organization's debts…

  • 5. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:07 am

    Yup, I think that's him. BTW Scottie, if at all possible, I do hope you can get yourself to one of the locations where these marriages are happening just to see it for yourself. I was fortunate enough to be there in person at City Hall in San Francisco on the first day of the marriages (both times, pre & post Prop 8!) and it was a wonderful experience that I will always remember. If you can, I encourage you to go participate in the celebration.

  • 6. hopalongcassidy  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:13 am

    What other 'legal channels' need to be 'worked out'???

  • 7. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:13 am

    Brendan Kirby of Al.com on Twitter:

    Alabama attorney general won't oppose lawyers' motion for contempt against Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis….
    https://twitter.com/BrendanKKirby/status/56486059

  • 8. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:15 am

    This is big.

  • 9. 1grod  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:19 am

    Other probate judges take note. THE AG will not support you. Time to process those 'applications'!

  • 10. josejoram  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:21 am

    “I have great respect for the legal process, and the protections that the law provides for our people. I am disappointed that a single Federal court judge disregarded the vote of the Alabama people to define marriage as between a man and woman"
    Contradictory, isn't it?

  • 11. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:22 am

    It seems after AGs are slapped by SCOTUS, they give up

    Florida AG.. Alabama AG

  • 12. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:22 am

    I believe what the governor means is that he will take no action against probate judges who follow the law and issue marriage licenses, because that is what Roy Moore said — that if they did issue marriage licenses, that the governor could take action against them. Whether the Probate judges will understand this, is another question.

  • 13. josejoram  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:23 am

    As nobody cares about what BB has to say, I don't even bother in reading it.

  • 14. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:27 am

    Yeah, you didn't miss anything. I aaaaalmost didn't bother posting it : )

  • 15. 1grod  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:27 am

    RL if they don't understand the Governor, they will the AG – l won't oppose lawyers' motion for contempt against Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis…. Any guess which of those with applications will move first: Baldwin, De Kalb, Elmore, Lee, Randolph, Sumter, Talladega, Washington, Wilcox. They constituent about 15% of the state population. Scottie it's your chance to show leadership with influening your home county.

  • 16. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:39 am

    and another closet case is who having a fit

  • 17. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:40 am

    county by county status
    http://www.al.com/news/index.ssf/2015/02/see_if_y

  • 18. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:52 am

    Brendan Kirby of Al.com on Twitter:

    Mobile County marriage office opening? There are rumblings that Probate Judge may be ready to allow same-sex marriages.
    https://twitter.com/BrendanKKirby/status/56487024

  • 19. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:56 am

    According to the map of Al.com, Lamar and Crenshaw counties issue marriage licenses as well !

  • 20. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:56 am

    And I just saw this tweet about developments in Mobile, with a quote from Attorney Christine Hernandez:

    "Perhaps we may have some movement …" attorney Christine Hernandez on Mobile Probate issuing same-sex marriage licenses today. #ALmarriage

  • 21. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 11:58 am

    It's NOT like he has a choice in the matter………and he CAN'T be upset at just one Judge when there were several who denied his Stay request……and the only confusion in Alabama is being caused by Moore and his clonies!!!

  • 22. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:03 pm

    Haul those Probate Judges azzes to jail for contempt of Court and make sure Chief Justice Roy Moore is in that bunch as well!!!

  • 23. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:15 pm

    Update: Brendan Kirby of Al.com on Twitter:

    I may have spoken too soon on AG's position on motion for contempt against Mobile probate judge. AG has not taken a position.
    https://twitter.com/BrendanKKirby/status/56487634

  • 24. cpnlsn88  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:16 pm

    [off topic]: I would like to hear from the 5th Circuit at this juncture!

    [on topic]: how astonishing it is for a state supreme court chief justice to incite disobedience of the law – this man is not good for Alabama.

  • 25. 1grod  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:18 pm

    With BL & Dave's info, counties that are open for same-gender business would comprise near 45% of the state. With Mobile open, and no apparent support from the AG or the Governor, Moore's rebellion may almost be over. G

  • 26. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:21 pm

    Bah! More recent tweets are now saying that Mobile clerk's windows will not be opening today. Stay tuned for a bit more unnecessary petty drama from the anti-equality side tomorrow morning.

  • 27. andrewofca  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:22 pm

    Paul Hard gets newly issued death certificate for his husband, now rightfully listed as his husband! woot!
    https://twitter.com/lyman_brian/status/5648321589

    (maybe this was already posted… but I'm too excited not to post it again, This was one of the worst nightmare stories related to the SSM struggle thus far. I'm so happy for Paul!

  • 28. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    Update – recent tweets are saying that the clerk's windows in Mobile will not be opening today after all.

  • 29. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:26 pm

    Fayette county is also issuing licenses making it 10 out of 67 thus far.

  • 30. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:31 pm

    a violation of a court order.. go figured!!

  • 31. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis will keep marriage office closed while it seeks "clarification" from Alabama Supreme Court.

  • 32. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:40 pm

    omg what waste of time This is not about Alabama Supreme Court, he is violating a federal court order.. I guess Judge Grande might need to take next step..

  • 33. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:41 pm

    Or, alternatively, receives a federal court order to obey Judge Granade's order or be held in contempt.

  • 34. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:45 pm

    Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis will keep marriage office closed while it seeks "clarification" from Alabama Supreme Court.

    We know what to expect from Moore…Is there a slight chance the rest of the Alabama Supreme Court can end this insanity that Moore started ? Like any chance to expect some judicial sense ?

  • 35. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:48 pm

    Well in South Carolina and Kansas the state supreme courts had to intervene to clarify the situation when unwilling state government refused to do so.

    If the other members of the Alabama Supreme Court have basic judicial sense, they should stop Moore's actions soon.

  • 36. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:50 pm

    BREAKING: Judge turns down request to hold Mobile County probate judge in contempt over marriage licenses.

  • 37. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:54 pm

    legally, and ethnically they can't do anything.. They need to say go to Federal court for clarification..

  • 38. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:55 pm

    On what grounds ?! Are they serious there in Alabama ?!

  • 39. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:56 pm

    hmmmm what now? Mobile and other counties can be lawless or we can pile up new lawsuits..

  • 40. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:58 pm

    http://pt.scribd.com/doc/255223642/1-14-cv-00208-

  • 41. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 12:59 pm

    The Moment for Marriage in Alabama [The New Yorker]
    http://www.newyorker.com/news/amy-davidson/court-

    Fascinating tidbit:

    "[The history of the civil rights movement in the south includes] the “Fifth Circuit Four,” Southern federal judges who ruled in favor of civil rights in a series of key cases, despite enormous pressure not to. One of those judges, as AL.com noted Monday, was Richard Rives. In 1956, Rives wrote for a 2-1 majority in Browder v. Gayle, finding that racial segregation on Montgomery’s busses was unconstitutional. His granddaughter is Judge Callie V. S. Granade."

  • 42. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    And this is why it's vitally important that every i is dotted and t is crossed. Because Searcy couldn't show harm, there's no case.
    See Chris Geidner here. https://twitter.com/chrisgeidner/status/564889694

  • 43. DACiowan  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:01 pm

    Using the 2013 population estimates, the ten marrying counties from Guitarist's map have 1,487,684 people. or 30.8% of Alabama's population. Adding Mobile (by far the most populous holdout) would bring us to 39.4%.

  • 44. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:03 pm

    Then they should do it the proper way I guess.

  • 45. DaveM_OH  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:04 pm

    Yup. Just wasted a day though.

  • 46. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:07 pm

    wrong..

    Kansas Supreme Court has granted a stay for Jefferson County before the Federal judge ruled, so legally they can make a decision, and its same with SC Supreme Court….. they had actual cases before them…

  • 47. SethInMaryland  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:08 pm

    Tallapoosa County is a go

  • 48. MichaelGrabow  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:10 pm

    This is pretty incredible.

  • 49. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    The South Carolina Supreme Court at least had stopped weddings at the request of the AG and then with a new order allowed them to proceed.
    Can't judges or plaintiffs here go to the Alabama Supreme Court and ask for a clarification ?

  • 50. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:15 pm

    I think she wants we sue county by county

  • 51. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    The Alabama Supreme Court has NO jurisdiction over a Federal Judge's ruling….and if the 11th CA didn't grant a stay and SCOTUS didn't grant a stay, then all that should be happening is throwing the bum in jail for failing to follow the Judge's ruling……ANYONE of us who failed to follow a Court order would be held in contempt UNTIL such a time as we were going to follow the ruling……..these folks might think twice if this action is in fact taken!!

  • 52. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:18 pm

    Such a waste of time…But that's literally what most have been saying all this time : Alabama has to be dragged kicking and screaming. And it seems this will be the case. Let's hope that once one of them is ordered to issue the licenses, the rest will get the message.
    Or the Alabama Supreme Court could issue a clarification, in hopes that the other judges have more sense than Moore.

  • 53. 1grod  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    Seth: With Mobile out and Tallapoose in, my county count brings it to 36% of the state population. G

  • 54. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:19 pm

    There were 10 counties earlier, but it went back to nine, due to Lamar County being changed.

  • 55. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:22 pm

    So, then other couples can sue the Probate Judge in Mobile and would then get specific relief, right?

  • 56. netoschultz  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:25 pm

    The Alabama Supreme Court is the 4th most conservative state supreme court in the country, i don't think good stuff will come from there.
    http://judgepedia.org/Political_outlook_of_state_

  • 57. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:26 pm

    Yeah, that was strange…But if Tallapoosa is in as another commenter said we are back to 10.

  • 58. Sagesse  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:30 pm

    It seems to be accepted that the probate court judges in Alabama perform both ministerial functions (great example is issuing drivers' licences) and judicial functions. The state supreme court could presumably clarify whether the probate court judges are acting in a ministerial capacity when they issue and record marriage licences, thus reporting to state government officials, or in a judicial capacity, reporting to the Chief Judge of the Supreme Court. Someone would have to ask them, though.

  • 59. DACiowan  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    I am at 31.3% (1,514,651 / 4,833,996)

    I'm pulling the 2013 population estimates from the Census Bureau and summing the nine counties from the AL.com map plus Tallapoosa.

  • 60. flyerguy77  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:31 pm

    Condon v. Haley

    On October 8, 2014, Charleston County Probate Judge Irvin Condon, citing Bostic v. Rainey, accepted a marriage license application presented by a female couple, the first same-sex marriage license application accepted in the state.[15] In other parts of the state, some same-sex marriage license applications were blocked by judges. Attorney General Wilson filed Wilson v. Condon, requesting an emergency injunction from South Carolina Supreme Court to halt the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. On October 9, the state Supreme Court agreed to halt the issuance of licenses pending the resolution of Bradacs. Because a South Carolina couple cannot receive a marriage license until 24 hours after their marriage license application was accepted, no marriage licenses were issued to same-sex couples in South Carolina, pending the outcome of Bradacs v. Haley.[16]
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Same-sex_marriage_in

  • 61. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:33 pm

    Wow I didn't know the state supreme courts in the dakotas are so conservative !

    Anyway this should not be an issue of ideology just a simple procedural issue of a clarification. The South Carolina Supreme Court is 9th but did what it had to do.

  • 62. SethInMaryland  |  February 9, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    i see conflicting about Tallapoose so i'm not sure now

  • 63. Eric  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:18 pm

    Were I in Alabama, I would sue the probate judge in their official and personal capacities. If they are acting in an unconstitutional manner, then they can't be acting in their official capacity.

  • 64. RnL2008  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:35 pm

    I would as well, if they aren't doing their job, then they either need to be fired or held in contempt……..I mean in reality, if anyone of us were to ignore a Court ruling, we'd certainly be hauled off to jail until we decide to comply and that's what should be happening here!!!

  • 65. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:45 pm

    NEW LAW SUIT against MOBILE COUNTY probate Judge DAVIS, resulting from a couple being denied a marriage license today:
    http://vignette2.wikia.nocookie.net/marriage/imag

  • 66. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    So, the way I understand it, people can get a marriage license anywhere that they are giving them out in Alabama, and still be married in a county that is not giving out licenses? If the offices are not issuing them to anyone, then that's fine. But if they issue licenses at all, they must issue them equally to SS and OS couples.

  • 67. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:50 pm

    This is what needs to happen, but it will be interesting to see the result, since Mobile County is not issuing marriage licenses at all, neither to same sex or opposite sex couples.

  • 68. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:54 pm

    Lamar was, but they stopped. I think that map is wrong.

  • 69. VIRick  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:55 pm

    "Kansas Supreme Court has granted a stay for Jefferson County …."

    That was Johnson County KS (Olathe).

  • 70. ReadLearn  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:57 pm

    Where do you see that Tallapoosa County is a go?

  • 71. 1grod  |  February 9, 2015 at 2:58 pm

    DA, we are likely drawing from the same population stats. I would suspect variance relates to which counties are being included. I'll pick up on this later this evening as your figure is not inconsistent to Pat's table. It would be a good reference doc for common reference – 'excel' sheet. She does a good job of identifying the self-excluding counties, and unknown, which makes for easy comparison. G

  • 72. tornado163  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:01 pm

    I'm not a lawyer, but I don't get it. In a lawsuit, the couples would sue the officials necessary to grant them full relief. The Alabama lawsuit, Searcy v Strange, is against the attorney general Luther Strange. So the couples and the judge agreed AG Strange had the power to grant full relief for the couple. In fact, they dropped probate judge Don Davis voluntarily, presumably because his actions weren't necessary to grant relief. So why not sue AG Strange for contempt of court? The judge rules he was the correct party, yet he hasn't ordered all probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

    As for probate judges not issuing any marriage licenses to any couples. Since that's purely an issue of state law without an equal protection issue, I imagine that will have to go to the Alabama Supreme Court to decide if the AL laws require county probate judges to issue marriage licenses. Or if enough opposite-sex couples are effected, public backlash might make them reconsider.

  • 73. davepCA  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    1. In ANY state, once you are legally married and have that 'certificate of civil marriage', you are married in the entire state.

    2. According to the recent federal ruling, Alabama's law banning civil marriage for same sex couples is unconstitutional and therefore cannot be enforced. There is a bit of last-minute balking by some officials, but that doesn't change the ruling. So Alabama's county offices must provide access to civil marriage for both same sex and opposite sex couples. Period.

    3. No, it is NOT okay for a county to suddenly refuse to provide access to civil marriage for ALL citizens under some pretext, simply as a way to avoid doing so for same sex couples. It is a transparent attempt to avoid complying with a federal ruling, and will result in them being sued by any couple (same or opposite sex) who is denied marriage.

  • 74. 1grod  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:04 pm

    Seth, its been that way all day. Media reports v Equality organizations' reports. Know and unknow counties. And I'm including Marengo because the pj has consistently said since last Thursday that she will issue licenses but not signed by her. The head of Vital Records has told the Association of PJs that we will accept and process these documents even unsigned.

  • 75. DACiowan  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    The nine I'm using are Chilton, Coffee, Crenshaw, Etowah, Fayette, Jefferson, Lowndes, Madison, and Montgomery.

    (Who's Pat?)

  • 76. VIRick  |  February 9, 2015 at 3:58 pm

    "…. and will result in them being sued by any couple (same or opposite sex) who is denied marriage."

    Dave, and I see opposite-sex couples (and their families. relatives, and friends) quickly becoming quite pissed about not being granted a civil marriage license (under the phony guise of no licenses for anyone, lest the county probate judge be perceived as "discriminating") in any/all of those counties which have abandoned the process entirely. They will be sued,– and quite soon. That's as illegal as those counties which are myopically still following the old, voided Alabama law (and not issuing to same-sex couples alone) where the discrimination is blatant.

  • 77. montezuma58  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:01 pm

    Dallas County (Selma) is listed as a YES here http://www.waff.com/story/28064243/licensing-stat

  • 78. guitaristbl  |  February 9, 2015 at 4:30 pm

    And if Moore is responsible for directing both on adminstrative and judicial matters the probate judges why not sue Moore in his official capacity at first (and as a person now with all that he has done) to make sure probate judges issue the licenses ?

  • 79. RobW303  |  February 9, 2015 at 6:14 pm

    I'd be surprised if a straight couple bothered to sue; unlike for same-sex couples, there are plenty of nearby counties where they can still get a license. I wouldn't expect them to want to undergo the hassle and legal expense of suing. Don't look for support there, just a few hissy fits in front of the press (about how the gays are acting like gestapo, and now it's impacting the civil rights of straight people).

  • 80. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 7:01 pm

    Good time to be a lawyer in 'bama.

  • 81. Tony MinasTirith  |  February 9, 2015 at 8:16 pm

    Looks like everyone in AL is going to have to be sued to grant licenses. What about recognition? May as well sue every state agency from the DMV To Tax and Revenue and eveyone inbetween. And what about private businesses like banks, real estate agencies, insurers, title companies, realators… not to mention the butchers and bakers and candle stick makers. Alabama is apparently still in the 1960s. At least today was a start and the stay denial from SCOTUS was great news minus Thomas' diatribe.

    Evil may win a few battles now and then but in the End Good Always prevails… even in Alabama

  • 82. montezuma58  |  February 10, 2015 at 6:19 am

    I wouldn't be so sure if you have a couple with a type of job where it's hard to get time off they're going to be massively pissed off if that time is wasted. Tracking Facebook or the news to see if a service that would normally be available due to a political spat.

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