Same-sex marriage legal Monday, not all probate judges agree

Feb 7, 2015

Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen

Gay marriage is set to be legalized in Alabama on Monday, barring a last-minute stay from the U.S. Supreme Court.

Same-sex couples throughout the state are expected to seek marriage licenses Monday once U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade lifts the stay on her order declaring Alabama's same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional.

Alabama has appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court to extend the stay on Granade's order, but as of Saturday the court had not responded to the state's request.

Although same-sex couples are free to apply for marriage licenses Monday, not all probate judges will be issuing them.

Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen announced he won't issue any marriage licenses or perform any marriage ceremonies starting Monday, according to a Facebook announcement. Allen says Pike County residents seeking a marriage license can receive one at any probate judge's office in Alabama that offers that service. He says this decision allows him to obey both the law and his Christian beliefs.

Laurie Hall, Marengo County Probate Judge, says her office will make marriage license forms available, but she won't sign them or perform any ceremonies.

Clarke County Probate Judge Valerie Davis is refusing to issue marriage licenses or perform weddings.

Washington County Probate Judge Nick Williams issued a statement saying he will only issue marriage licenses “consistent with Alabama law and the U.S. Constitution; namely, between one man and one woman only, so help me God.”

Several other Alabama probate judges, including Geneva County's Fred Hamic, Covington County's Ben Bowden, Elmore County's John Enslen, and Chilton County's Bobby Martin, say they plan to issue same-sex marriage licenses in order to adhere to federal law. However, they will not perform wedding ceremonies for same-sex couples as it violates their personal religious beliefs.

Same-sex couples looking to wed in Alabama are not required to visit their home county's courthouse to receive the marriage license; they can go to any county courthouse in the state.