Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore is massively resisting marriage equality again

Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore issued an administrative order this morning declaring that the state’s ban on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples will remain in effect until an order from a higher court specifically requires them to lift it.

As Moore argued, since the Supreme Court’s Obergefell ruling only considered bans on same-sex marriage from four states — Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee — it doesn’t apply to Alabama. A federal court has to go through each of the other states with bans on same-sex marriage one by one and instruct each of them that their bans are invalid.

Moore’s actions have already caused at least one county, Mobile, to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether out of confusion as to whether it is mandatory or illegal for them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples alongside straight couples. However, at least one other probate judge has indicated that he thinks Moore is being petty and desperate, and that his order doesn’t have a legal leg to stand on:

It’s hard to imagine that Moore thinks this will end in any way other than embarrassment for him. He’s tried to massively resist marriage equality in his state a few times already, and he’s come up empty every time. Gays and lesbians have been getting married in Alabama for nearly a full year now, so even if he can throw a temporary wrench in his state’s works for now, it’s not like he can un-marry all of the couples that are currently enjoying full marriage rights.

According to Buzzfeed‘s Chris Geidner, however, a federal court already issued an injunction earlier this year — which it reiterated in a clarification following the Obergefell ruling — that amounted to the very kind of court order Moore says is required in order to overturn Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage. As Geidner explained:

Roy Moore, via Mike Licht / Flickr

Roy Moore, via Mike Licht / Flickr

There was no mention in Moore’s order of the federal case overseen by U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade that has challenged the Alabama ban. In that case, Granade in May 2015 issued a preliminary injunction striking down the amendment and act referenced by Moore in his administrative order. The order applied to all probate judges in the state because it was the result of a class action lawsuit that included all probate judges as the defendant class but was put on hold pending the outcome of the Supreme Court’s Obergefell case.

After the Obergefell decision was issued, Granade issued a clarification order on July 1, 2015, noting that “the preliminary injunction is now in effect and binding on all members of the Defendant Class.”

So it isn’t even clear what Moore is waiting for in this case. Short, perhaps, of the National Guard.


Jon Green graduated from Kenyon College with a B.A. in Political Science and high honors in Political Cognition. He worked as a field organizer for Congressman Tom Perriello in 2010 and a Regional Field Director for President Obama's re-election campaign in 2012. Jon writes on a number of topics, but pays especially close attention to elections, religion and political cognition. Follow him on Twitter at @_Jon_Green, and on Google+. .

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  • MacAdvisor

    Moore is absolutely correct: the finding in Obergefell v. Hodges, 576 U.S. ___ (2015), does not directly apply to Alabama as the state was not a party to the action. However, the Federal court order by U.S. District Judge Callie V. S. Granade in the case of Searcy v. Strange does specifically apply and it makes marriage equality the law of the state of Alabama. Thus, that Obergefell v. Hodges doesn’t apply is meaningless.
    I look forward to Federal marshals hauling Moore out of his Supreme Court office to appear before Judge Granade for contempt of court. She seems perfectly capable of letting Moore cool his heals in a jail cell for a few days.

  • FLL

    Governor George Wallace ignored the federal judiciary’s order to integrate schools. He stood in the entrance at the University of Alabama, but when push came to shove and the federal marshals were there, Wallace stepped aside. Roy is doing nothing here but giving an early campaign speech for his next run for governor of Alabama. If he wins and becomes Alabama’s governor, so be it. Alabama voters can elect whomever they want as governor, but there never has been nor ever will be a post-Civil-War Alabama governor who successfully defies the federal judiciary. George Wallace fell on his face, and all others who imitate him will do the same. Tough luck, Roy.

  • keirmeister

    Nice. Thanks for that clarification!

  • In Alabama, it’s probate judges who are involved with the process. Think ‘district magistrate’ in other systems. And the trouble is, probate judges technically are employees of the judiciary…and guess who is the titular head of that in ‘Bama? Moore. In fact, he worded his order not as a judicial opinion but as an administrative order.

    The guy’s an ass, but he’s a clever one who knows the best place to throw his sabots into the legal gears.

  • Melo11

    It shows the majority of voters..

  • gratuitous

    Judge Moore’s announcement yesterday has absolutely nothing to do with his son being arraigned on charges of possession of marijuana and prescription drugs and entering a plea of not guilty, so stop saying that!

  • He’ll probably run for governor.

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  • Alex Grey

    Supremacy Clause for the win!!! Oh sorry, did you forget about the US Constitution?

  • dave3137

    I honestly don’t mean to minimize what Moore does/doesn’t do, but in a lot of ways hearing that Moore is an asshole is sort of like the old SNL routine: “And Generalissimo Francisco Franco is still dead.”

  • keirmeister

    “It’s hard to imagine that Moore thinks this will end in any way other than embarrassment for him. ”

    Jon, dear…surely you know by now that Right-Wingers NEVER get embarrassed by this type of thing! That’s one of the reasons they keep doing it. To them it’s just another reason to try harder.

    Oh were I a clerk in AL. I would issue gay licenses in defiance of Moore in a heartbeat.

  • Don Bruce

    There is a mandatory retirement age for judges of 70 in Alabama. Moore turns 69 next month. We’ll be rid of him in 13 months one way or another.

  • Alabama supreme court justices are elected. He’s pandering to the homophobic bigots in his state, of which there appears to be a voting plurality.

    Remember, this is the same asshole who defied federal court orders to remove the gigantic Ten Commandments display from public property, was removed from office for his defiance, and then won re-election because, well, Alabama.

    What’s Moore waiting for? The day when he can’t come up with any more Constitution-defying orders. It is foolish to assume he’ll get out of the way or be hindered at all by the fact what he’s doing is blatantly illegal.

  • She didn’t! I wonder if sitting in jail on contempt charges will
    help Ms. Thang (R.: Crackerbama) here see things a little more clearly?

    This hot mess has long had her wig on backwards!

    You just know that thinking about those hot, sweaty mens gets Moore all tingling in her naughty parts.

  • Nelson Kerr

    This proves once again that a majority of the voters in AL, are insane, stupid or both

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