Aug Sept 2016
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Alabama Probate Judges Association: We 'Cannot Legally' Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples

Alabama Probate Judges Association: We 'Cannot Legally' Issue Marriage Licenses to Gay Couples

The Alabama Probate Judge Association says it "cannot" issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, despite the recent news of a federal judge ruling in favor of marriage equality.

In a press release sent out Saturday night, the association stated it wished to “clear up some misconceptions” about Friday’s ruling by U.S. District Court Judge Callie, which would allow gay and lesbian couples to begin marrying in Alabama as early as Monday.

The association, which is responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Alabama’s 67 counties, contends that the case, known as Searcy v. Strange, does not “open the door” for all same-sex couples to begin marrying, but rather only applies to the plaintiffs in the ruling. 

"Many media outlets are reporting that the ruling, issued Friday by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade, will allow same sex couples to receive marriage licenses in Alabama beginning Monday morning. The Alabama Probate Judges Association wants to ensure that all Alabamians are clear that Friday's ruling does not open the door for the issuance of same sex marriage licenses," the statement said.

"Cari Searcy and Kim McKeand are the only plaintiffs in the case that was filed against Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange. The Alabama Probate Judges Association says that is a key point in the effect that this ruling has on the duties of probate judges."

The case was filed on behalf of Cari Searcy and Kimberly McKeand, a lesbian couple together for more than 14 years, who married in California in 2008, but have lived in Alabama since 2011, according to Montgomery TV station WSFA. In order for Searcy to legally adopt her wife's 8-year-old son, the state must recognize the two women's California marriage. 

The lawsuit challenged Alabama's 2006 Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, which prohibited the state from recognizing as valid any marriage that was not made up of one man and one woman.  

But Al Agricola, attorney for the Alabama Probate Judges Association, maintained that the ruling “only applies to the parties in the case and has no effect on anybody that is not a named party.”

"The legal effect of this decision is to allow one person in one same sex marriage that was performed in another state to adopt their partner's child,” he continued. “There is nothing in the judge's order that requires probate judges in Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same sex couples."

"As probate judges, our duty is to issue marriage licenses in accordance with Alabama law and that means we cannot legally issue marriage licenses to same sex couples," concluded Judge Greg Norris, president of the Alabama Probate Judges Association. "The recent federal ruling does not change that."

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