The law permits probate judges to opt out of issuing marriage licenses, and that’s exactly what Alabama probate judges are doing.
They are reviewing their options of performing same-sex marriages, and until they are sure of their legal rights, they will not issue any marriage licenses. They are basing this decision on the law saying “may” instead of “shall”, which makes a big difference.
Pike County, Alabama officials haven’t issued marriage licenses in months, and after the Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, Probate Judge Wes Allen announced that his office is now permanently out of the marriage business.
“My office discontinued issuing marriage licenses in February and I have no plans to put Pike County back into the marriage business,” Allen wrote in a statement. “The policy of my office regarding marriage is no different today than it was yesterday.”
Geneva County Probate Judge Fred Hamic also said he intends to permanently close the marriage license bureau in his office, if his attorneys don’t object.
Both judges cited Alabama Code Section 30-1-9: “Marriage licenses may be issued by the judges of probate of the several counties.”
The law says “may” instead of “shall”, Hamic said, which makes a big difference. He said the law permits probate judges to opt of of issuing marriage licenses.
“This decision is not based on me being a homophobic, people can do whatever they want in private,” Hamic said. “It is based strictly on my Christian beliefs.”
Other probate judges opposed to same-sex marriage have also said they are reviewing the ruling and wrestling with the decision.
Read the full article at AL.com
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