Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore is unapologetic about his efforts to block marriage equality in the Heart of Dixie, going on CNN's New Day Wednesday to defend his defiance of a federal order that should have taken the freedom to marry statewide.
In a heated discussion with CNN's Chris Cuomo, the Alabama judge waffled on whether his opposition to marriage equality was based in law, ultimately admitting "this is about sexual preference."
Moore has been the state's most vocal — and vociferous — opponent of allowing Alabama to become the 37th state with marriage equality. The chief justice has instructed probate judges (who are responsible for issuing marriage licenses in Alabama) to ignore a federal order requiring them to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, telling judges they could be held in contempt if they perform same-sex marriages. Alabama's Republican governor, Robert Bentley, has said he will not intervene or prosecute probate judges for either issuing or refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
When CNN's Cuomo pointed out that Moore "didn't have to do this" and could have just abided by U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade's January ruling that struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage, Moore fired back, rejecting Cuomo's claim that the issue at hand was "about discrimination.
"It's about sexual preference," Moore replied. "It's about sexual preference overcoming an institution which has existed in our state, in our United States, for centuries, and I think it's wrong."
Moore also said the 81 percent of Alabama voters who supported the state's anti–marriage equality constitutional amendment in 2006 haven't changed in the past nine years.
"The only thing that's changed is this one federal judge has come in and tried to force upon this state something which she cannot do," Moore claimed. "Her opinion is not law."
That's technically incorrect, especially since a federal appellate court and the U.S. Supreme Court both declined to extend a stay Granade initially placed on her ruling, essentially indicating that she arrived at the legally correct conclusion. And Granade's "opinion" falls in line with roughly 60 other federal and state courts that have determined bans on same-sex marriage, like Alabama's, violate the U.S. Constitution.
This isn't the first time Moore has run afoul of federal courts, relying on his ultraconservative Christianity. He was removed from office in 2003 after he refused to remove a giant monument of the Ten Commandments from his courthouse, even after a federal judge ordered him to do so. Voters returned Moore to the chief justice spot in 2012.
Judging by his latest comments, Moore might need to be prepared to face the consequences of his insolence once again.
"If I can't follow what the Supreme Court says, I'll recuse from the case," Moore said in response to Cuomo's query about whether he would abide by a U.S. Supreme Court ruling establishing marriage equality nationwide.
Watch segments of the interview, edited by CNN, below.