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to Section One | to Arts & Entertainment
posted Friday, February 6, 2015 - Volume 43 Issue 06
Alabama set for Gay and Lesbian marriages February 9
Section One
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Alabama set for Gay and Lesbian marriages February 9

by Mike Andrew - SGN Staff Writer

Alabama Public Health officials said they are sending updated marriage forms to probate judges in all of the state's 67 counties in anticipation of the first same-sex marriages due on February 9.

Instead of listing 'bride' and 'groom,' the new forms include 'first listed spouse' and 'second listed spouse.'

Catherine Donald, the state registrar and director of the Center for Health Statistics, said there are a few other minor changes that have made the marriage certificate slightly longer. For instance, it now asks for the gender of each spouse, which will allow the state to track how many marriage licenses are issued to Gay couples.

U.S. District Judge Callie Granade struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriages, but stayed her ruling till February 9. The Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals refused to extend the stay, and on February 4 suspended its action on the issue until the U.S. Supreme Court rules.

Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange has asked the Supreme Court to extend the stay, but so far nothing has been forthcoming from the high court.

That means - barring any last-minute complications - same-sex marriages should begin in Alabama on February 9.

Meanwhile, the state's chief judge, Roy Moore, is telling probate judges they do not need to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Moore sent a letter to the judges on February 3, saying the Granade's decision is not binding on them. Moore has also urged judges not to comply with any U.S. Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.

'I can't tell them how to think. I can't tell them how to interpret the Constitution. I can say that they are obliged to follow the Alabama Constitution and nothing prevents that,' Moore said.

'To disobey the Alabama Constitution would be to ignore the 81 percent of the people in this state that adopted the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment.'

In response, the Southern Poverty Law Center (SPLC) has filed two judicial ethics complaints against Moore.

'Justice Moore is, I think, a dangerous person. He's created a crisis in the state before. He just seems hell-bent determined to do it again,' said Richard Cohen, president of the SPLC.

Cohen said judges who refuse to issue licenses risk being sued and were being led into 'very, very hot water by suggesting they ignore Judge Granade's order.'

SPLC and Moore have tangled before. In 2003, an ethics complaint filed by the group got Moore kicked off the state bench. He later won a new election to the post of chief judge.

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