Just as Alabama's same-sex couples prepare for marriage equality on Monday morning, the state's arch-conservative chief justice is doing everything to stop the weddings.
Roy Moore, who has never been shy about his opposition to equality, told probate judges in a letter on Sunday that they should not issue licenses to same-sex couples on Monday. That order goes against two rulings from U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade that separately truck down legislation and a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage in Alabama. A stay on those decisions expires Monday and the Supreme Court ignored a request from Alabama officials to extend the stay further. That should mean same-sex couples can begin marrying on Monday, but Moore's letter throws a wrench in those plans.
Referring to Alabama's 2006 constitutional amendment and a 1998 law banning same-sex marriage, Moore's letter declares that "no probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with Article 1, Section 36.03, of the Alabama Constitution or § 30-1-19, Ala. Code 1975."
Moore isn't alone in trying to stop marriage equality from the Alabama bench. One probate judge, Wes Allen, had already vowed to stop issuing all marriage licenses in his county so he could avoid marrying same-sex couples.
Moore's previous efforts at stopping marriage equality inspired ethics charges and demands for his termination from groups like the Southern Poverty Law Center and the Human Rights Campaign. Of Moore's most recent attempt, HRC legal director Sarah Warbelow had this to say:
“This is a pathetic, last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat by an Alabama Supreme Court justice — a man who should respect the rule of law rather than advance his personal beliefs. Absent further action by the U.S. Supreme Court, the federal ruling striking down Alabama’s marriage ban ought to be fully enforced, and couples that have been waiting decades to access equal marriage under the law should not have to wait a single day longer. All probate judges should issue licenses tomorrow morning, and Chief Justice Roy Moore ought to be sanctioned.”