Alabama Supreme Court refuses same-sex marriage challenge

MONTGOMERY (UPI) — Alabama’s Supreme Court dismissed two petitions by conservative advocacy groups seeking to uphold the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Petitions by the Alabama Policy Institute, the Alabama Citizens Action Program and Elmore County’s probate judge sought to defy the Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges making same-sex marriage legal in all states.

The ruling dictated that same-sex marriage would remain legal in Alabama. Alabama Policy Institute attorney Eric Johnston told AL.com that the decision ended their petitions.

“My initial reading of it is that the [Alabama] justices were bound by Obergefell and they have agreed that Obergefell is controlling and that the opinion from March will not now be in effect,” he said. “They [Alabama justices], however, all strongly expressed disagreement with Obergefell but as a matter of the rule of law they had to follow it.”

Alabama’s chief justice, Roy S. Moore, called the ruling a “lawless act” in his 94-page concurring opinion. He also argued that the state’s ban on gay marriage is still legally intact.

“Today this Court by order dismisses all pending motions and petitions and issues the certificate of judgment in this case,” he wrote. “That action does not disturb the existing March orders in this case or the Court’s holding therein that the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment, …and the Alabama Marriage Protection Act, § 30-1-9, Ala. Code 1975, are constitutional.”

Justice Tom Parker also criticized the ruling in a 14-page opinion saying, “The rule of law is dead.”

Justice Greg Shaw countered Moore’s statements, adding that judges who cannot comply with the law should forfeit their spot on the bench.

“If a judge finds that he or she cannot abide by a controlling decision of a higher court, then that judge should resign from office,” he said. “He or she should not indulge in the pretense that rebelling against a superior court’s decision is an accepted judicial response.”

Moore had attempted to block the distribution of marriage licenses to same-sex couples as recently as Jan. 7. The ruling on Friday dictates that same-sex couples be treated equally in access to marriage licenses.