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BREAKING: All Alabama Counties Must Marry Same-Sex Couples, Says Federal Judge

BREAKING: All Alabama Counties Must Marry Same-Sex Couples, Says Federal Judge

The same judge who struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage last month today ordered all probate judges statewide to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. 

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, who in January handed down a pair of rulings finding Alabama's ban on marriage equality unconstitutional, issued clarification in a related case today, affirming that all counties must allow same-sex couples to marry. 

That means probate judges — who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Alabama — in all of Alabama's 67 counties must begin issuing licenses to eligible same-sex couples immediately. 

At press time, just 23 counties — covering an estimated 45 percent of the state's population — were issuing such licenses, according to the Human Rights Campaign. And 26 counties — serving 34 percent of the state's population — had stopped issuing marriage licenses to any couples as of noon Thursday, reports HRC. 

Granade's latest ruling came shortly after hearing from lawyers representing four same-sex couples who were denied marriage licenses in Mobile County, asking the judge for clarification on her earlier order, according to The New York Times. Granade's ruling specifically orders Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, rejecting the probate judge's argument that Alabama's Sanctity of Marriage Act — which Granade's earlier rulings struck down — prohibited him from marrying same-sex couples. 

"Probate Judge Don Davis is hereby enjoined from refusing to issue marriage licenses to plaintiffs due to the Alabama laws which prohibit same-sex marriage," Granade wrote in today's ruling. "This injunction binds Judge Don Davis and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage."

Davis was presumably relying on guidance from the Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court, who on Sunday told probate judges they did not have to abide by Granade's ruling, which took effect Monday. Chief Justice Roy Moore, an ultraconservative Christian who was removed from office in 2003 after he refused to comply with a federal order to remove a statue of the 10 Commandments from his courthouse, has quickly become the face of judicial obstruction and opposition to marriage equality in Alabama. 

"It is time for the judicial chaos that Chief Justice Roy Moore has caused to end," said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow in a statement. "Both the law and Judge Granade’s action today are crystal clear: refusing to follow the law has consequences. All probate judges should do their duties as public servants and begin to issue licenses to committed, loving same-sex couples immediately."

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