The Alabama Supreme Court voted Tuesday to order probate judges temporarily to stop providing same-sex marriage licenses to applicants within the state. A pair of conservative institutions -- the Alabama Citizens Action Program and the Alabama Policy Institute -- had asked the state’s Supreme Court to order a halt in defiance of a federal judge’s January ruling that Alabama’s ban on gay marriage was a violation of the U.S. Constitution.
“As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for ‘marriage’ between only one man and one woman,” the ruling said, according to AL.com. “Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty.”
Alabama’s Supreme Court is composed entirely of Republicans, only one of whom voted against the order, Buzzfeed reported. The state’s probate judges have five business days to respond to the order if they wish to make a case as to why they should be allowed to continue to issue same-sex marriage licenses.
“It is deeply unfortunate that even as nationwide marriage equality is on the horizon, the Alabama Supreme Court is determined to be on the wrong side of history,” Shannon Minter, legal director of the National Center for Lesbian Rights, said in response to the order, according to the Associated Press.
Alabama temporarily became the 37th state to legalize gay marriage in January when U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade of Mobile ruled the state’s existing bans were unconstitutional under federal law. The state’s first-ever gay marriages took place Feb. 9.
After Granade’s ruling, Chief Justice Roy Moore, who recused himself from Tuesday’s vote, told probate judges they were not legally bound to issue same-sex marriage licenses. As a result, many judges refused to grant the licenses. However, Granade overruled Moore Feb. 12 and specifically ordered Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis to issue gay marriage licenses, Reuters reported.
The U.S. Supreme Court will decide later this year if state courts have the authority to ban same-sex marriage. A ruling on the issue is expected in June.