Eight Alabama counties are still refusing to issue any marriage licenses
Eight Alabama counties are still flatly refusing to issue any marriage licenses, after axing the provisions over same-sex marriage.
Same-sex weddings began in Alabama in January 2015 after a lower court battle, months ahead of the Supreme Court ruling that would bring equal marriage to all 50 states.
At the time, a number of counties in the states attempted to resist the ruling, opting to cease offering marriage licenses to all couples, straight or gay.
Nearly two years on, reporters from AL.com followed up with representatives of the 15 ‘hold out’ counties that had stopped issuing licenses.
They found that eight of the state’s 67 counties are still continuing their resistance to the equality measure.
Debbie Owens, chief clerk of Washington County, said: “We do not issue marriage licenses because our judge chose not to. It’s our judge’s choice.”
While it is illegal to not issue marriage licenses to gay couples while granting them to straight couples, technically the counties are not violating any laws by simply refusing to issue licenses altogether.
In addition to the eight counties that won’t issue licenses, a further four refuse to perform marriage ceremonies.
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Angi Stalnaker, a spokeswoman for Pike County, told the outlet: “Alabama law says probate judges may issue marriage licenses, but doesn’t require them to, so Judge Wes Allen got Pike County out of the marriage business altogether a couple of years ago.
“The Supreme Court said you can’t discriminate against individuals. He’s not discriminating because he’s not issuing licenses to anybody in Pike County.”
Activists reacted with shock that the counties remain stubborn on the issue.
Gary Wright II, one of the plaintiffs in the state’s same-sex marriage legal battle, said: “We thought this was over but, sure enough, Alabama will be the last state in the nation to get through this.
“Everyone thinks – especially after the Supreme Court win – that this was settled and everyone’s moved on, but the judges who didn’t want to go along with [gay marriage] just said, ‘we won’t issue licenses to any couple’.”
Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore was recently removed from office after his own illegal crusade to block same-sex weddings.