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Alabama Governor Robert Bentley: “I’m not going to” block marriage equality from moving forward

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Talking Points Memo reports that Governor Robert Bentley is taking a less abrasive tone on the issue of same-sex marriage. Chief Justice Roy Moore has tried to order county probate judges not to issue licenses, but Bentley has said he won’t block marriages:

Gov. Robert Bentley, a Republican and a Southern Baptist, said he believes strongly that marriage is between one man and one woman, but that the issue should be “worked out through the proper legal channels” and not through defiance of the law.

The governor noted that Alabama is about to be in the spotlight again with the 50th anniversary of the Voting Rights Act of 1965, which was passed after civil rights marchers were attacked and beaten in Selma, Alabama — events chronicled in the Oscar-nominated movie “Selma.”

“I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.

“I’m trying to move this state forward.”

It’s possible that Moore’s order is making officials in the state uncomfortable. Earlier today, the attorney general noted that he does not oppose adding new plaintiffs and defendants, including the Mobile County Probate Judge, to an existing lawsuit, and he wouldn’t take a position on the couples’ request for an injunction allowing marriage in the county.

Many of the probate judges who are still refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couples have cited confusion about Moore’s order.


  • 1. jcmeiners  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:14 am

    Maybe Moore actually did us a favor by raising the specter of another stand in the schoolhouse / courthouse door, for all so plain to see.

  • 2. DavidAZ1  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:30 am

    Selma ( Dallas county) is not issuing marriage licenses. I wonder what same-sex couples would encounter if they were to march enmass across the Edmund Pettus Bridge to the courthouse. Would history repeat itself?

  • 3. Waxr  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:38 am

    The remarkable thing is that there are not public protests or marches either for or against SSM. The opposition is coming more from public officials than from the public.

  • 4. davepCA  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:39 am

    More evidence of animus to help any future arguments from us regarding heightened scrutiny.

  • 5. davepCA  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:39 am

    It would make a good point, wouldn't it?

  • 6. guitaristbl  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:40 am

    "“I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago when a federal law was defied. I’m not going to do that,” Bentley said in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press.
    “I’m trying to move this state forward.”"

    You are not trying hard enough obviously Bentley but this is a statement I did not expect for him, I am positively surprised.

  • 7. SoCal_Dave  |  February 10, 2015 at 10:53 am

    Yes, an underwhelming but pleasant surprise.
    Pssst… Mr. Bentley… the way to move your state forward is to *lead* it forward, not just to move out of the way.
    (but out of the way is better than *in* the way).

  • 8. DrPatrick1  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:00 am

    Except that animus is not unlawful, in an of itself. It is not, by itself, justification for declaring a law unconstitutional.

    Animus, when alone, is insufficient justification for a law. Thus, its absence or presence neither helps nor hurts our legal chances of success. Thus, animus only hurts our people!

    Animus has never been cited as a reason to declare a law unconstitutional. It is only mentioned as something that should alert the careful observer to possible unequal treatment, and when no justification is allowed, that discrimination is unconstitutional.

  • 9. GregInTN  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:04 am

    You may find today's editorial cartoon in the Chattanooga Times Free Press interesting:

  • 10. GregInTN  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:04 am

    You may find today's editorial cartoon in the Chattanooga Times Free Press interesting:

  • 11. davepCA  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:10 am

    A woman has been arrested in Alabama – for offering to perform a civil marriage ceremony for a couple in the probate office (one of the offices that is issuing licenses but now refuses to perform the ceremonies, supposedly due to "work flow issues"). She was told to leave building, refused to do so, and has been arrested. Smells like evidence of animus to me, hmm?

  • 12. StraightDave  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:15 am

    "Maybe Moore actually did us a favor "

    The jackasses always do. See Prop8 and its continuing side effects.

  • 13. tornado163  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:17 am

    I don't think it's animus necessarily. The arrested woman appears to be a private minister and doesn't appear to work for the county and refused to leave when asked. So I can see the county officials not wanting random people off the street to conduct wedding ceremonies in their office without advance notice.

    If the probate court stopped all wedding ceremonies entirely, why couldn't the minister just marry the couple outside the office or in a park or someone's house? I don't see why the ceremony had to be inside the government office, especially after the minister was asked to leave.

  • 14. davepCA  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:22 am

    Would they have asked an ordained minister to leave if she had been offering to perform a ceremony for an OPPOSITE sex couple? No. The point is that the office had recently decided to stop performing all ceremonies purely because of 'work flow issues' (yeah right), not because they had any objection to non-staff performing such ceremonies. She was clearly arrested because they didn't want to allow a ceremony to be performed for a SAME sex couple.

  • 15. davepCA  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:28 am

    No, I wasn't saying that this would rule a law unconstitutional. But it's one of the factors in determining level of scrutiny to be applied to the law, and can help make the difference between the court applying 'rational basis' and 'heightened scrutiny'. It's important.

  • 16. davepCA  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:29 am

    I like it!

  • 17. A_Jayne  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:34 am

    Is the courthouse one of "the people's buildings"? Or is it not?

  • 18. Brad_1  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:35 am

    I agree. I thank the Mormons for bankrolling Prop 8 and creating the anger/urgency/imperative for action to occur.

    I wonder where marriage equality would stand in the U.S. were it not for the Mormons and Prop 8.

  • 19. sfbob  |  February 10, 2015 at 11:42 am

    Animus isn't unlawful but it IS evidence that can and should be presented as part of the argument for our side.

  • 20. Zack12  |  February 10, 2015 at 12:24 pm

    I think Bentley and some of the other bigots realize how bad Moore is making them look and don't want to follow him down that road.

  • 21. DrPatrick1  |  February 10, 2015 at 12:33 pm

    I suppose others are supporting your view. I don't think we want a country where animus alone is illegal. Rather, it is when all other supports for discrimination have been eliminated, and animus alone is what is left, that is what cannot comport with our constitution.

    In any case, Certainly we GLBT's should not have to prove animus against us, as it has been so pervasive as to be indisputable. I myself would be ok if it just stopped. We don't need any more evidence.

  • 22. davepCA  |  February 10, 2015 at 12:38 pm

    Well I certainly agree with at least the last couple of sentences! But I don't see that anyone is suggesting that animus should be illegal. Just that it is important to consider it as a factor when deciding level of scrutiny.

  • 23. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 10, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    When I was in college, several of us from the dorm went to Chicago (about 150 miles from the college campus) in a 1949 Cadillac hearse (the year was about 1971, so the hearse was not THAT old!). Black curtains in the windows, and a plywood box covered with black crepe in the 'back' (hiding the gallons of screwdrivers we 'hid' in the box).

    Caused a bit of a stir to and from the city, and in the city itself!

    The car driving across the bridge reminds me of that hearse.

  • 24. RQO  |  February 10, 2015 at 1:51 pm

    A little late for my taste. Moore may have to be made to walk the plank, but Bentley et al are rats leaving the ship? For that matter, I'll bet anything Huckabee and Santorum are currently unavailable for comment.

  • 25. hopalongcassidy  |  February 10, 2015 at 1:58 pm

    I like vodka with milk of magnesia.

    Phillips screwdriver.

  • 26. hopalongcassidy  |  February 10, 2015 at 2:15 pm

    Lacking more information, I agree with you. They MIGHT have been willing to allow this woman to conduct a 'regular' type wedding but that is not specified, or known from the report. It is tempting to assume but it might be like many assumptions.

  • 27. hopalongcassidy  |  February 10, 2015 at 2:17 pm

    Apparently this is a separate building from the courthouse. I don't think we know for sure if it is a people's building the way we nominally understand it. Scottie probably knows.

  • 28. Brad_1  |  February 10, 2015 at 2:43 pm

    I agree.

    I've long thought there is a "market" for a southern state that would distinguish itself from other southern states by staking a position as progressive/welcoming/pro-science/pro-education/green. (I've long thought North Carolina, specifically, would do well economically to stake such a position.)

    This would be attractive to progressive companies looking for a place to expand, by being a place that will attract and keep young, educated talent that embrace progressive values.

  • 29. Brad_1  |  February 10, 2015 at 2:48 pm

    Moore is less.

  • 30. Brad_1  |  February 10, 2015 at 3:02 pm

    I fully plan to cut and paste Moore's animus any time I need Exhibit A of homophobic hate.

    I spend all my time in blue states and hang out with nice, progressive folk; it's easy for me — and my progressive LGBT and straight friends — to forget that people like Moore are still out there. Thank you Mr. Moore for showing your true colors; you've helped our cause.

  • 31. Mike_Baltimore  |  February 10, 2015 at 6:01 pm

    And your preference for 'Phillips screwdrivers' is today, or in 1971?

    I didn't state that I was drinking screwdrivers and/or that they are now my favored drink. In fact, my favorite drink now is gin and tonic.

  • 32. 1grod  |  February 10, 2015 at 9:08 pm

    or in the Chief Justice's circumstance, perhaps less is Moore.

  • 33. Steve84  |  February 11, 2015 at 3:52 am

    >"I don’t want Alabama to be seen as it was 50 years ago"

    Too late, asshole

  • 34. hopalongcassidy  |  February 11, 2015 at 3:42 pm

    It was a silly little joke, you nescient moron. I'm pretty tired of your ill-advised pedantic anal retentive bullshit. Fuck off and expire.

  • 35. primalurge  |  February 11, 2015 at 3:54 pm

    Most of us are tired of your juvenile bullying name calling vulgarity. You obviously have quite a few personal problems and an inability to function well with civilized people.

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