Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore on Wednesday ordered probate judges in the state to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses, despite last year's U.S. Supreme Court ruling that legalized gay marriage throughout the country.
Moore said the federal case, Obergefell v. Hodges, brought "confusion and uncertainty" to Alabama, where the state supreme court has previously ruled against legalizing same-sex marriage. Among other things, he cited the case of Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who was jailed after refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as evidence of such "confusion."
Rights groups quickly slammed down Moore's statement.
"This is Moore yet again confusing his role as chief justice with his personal anti-LGBT agenda," said Scott McCoy, senior staff attorney with the Southern Poverty Law Center, a civil rights advocacy organization based in Montgomery.
Wednesday's order was not Moore's first attempt to defy the nation's highest court on this issue. In March 2015, a month after Alabama Federal District Court Judge Callie V. Granade struck down the state's ban on same-sex marriage, Moore handed down an "emergency petition" stating that probate judges "have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law."
However, as the ACLU pointed out in a tweet on Wednesday, the Obergefell ruling legally binds Alabama probate judges to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
McCoy also said, "Chief Justice Roy Moore today issued a dead letter. In no way does his administrative order supersede Judge Granade's federal injunction prohibiting probate judges from enforcing discriminatory Alabama marriage laws."
Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, added in a statement to Common Dreams: "Any probate court judge who goes back to the old practices does so at his or her own peril of being held in contempt."