Several Alabama Probate Judges Say They Won’t Issue Marriage Licenses To Same-Sex Couples


Several probate judges in Alabama say they won't issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday — when a stay expires on a federal district judge's ruling striking down the state's marriage ban. 

MSNBC reports: 

Of the 26 probate judges msnbc was able to contact Friday, 18 said they were planning on issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples next week. But Liberty Counsel, an anti-marriage equality litigation and policy organization, said it was already representing five Alabama judges who would not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples on Monday, and that more judges could soon be seeking the group’s representation.

Assuming the U.S. Supreme Court doesn't issue a stay over the weekend, same-sex couples can begin applying for marriage licenses Monday morning. 

The Troy Messenger reports that Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen (above) plans to stop issuing marriage licenses altogether to avoid providing them to same-sex couples, which he says would violate his religious beliefs: 

“The people of Pike County elected me to perform my duties and they also elected me because of who I am and the values I live by,” Allen said. “I am choosing to take the Pike County Probate Office out of the marriage licensing business altogether. That is completely within my rights under the laws of Alabama.”

Allen cited state law, specifically Alabama Code Section 30-1-9, which states “Marriage licenses may be issued by the judges of probate of the several counties.”

Allen said the word “may” in the statue shows that Alabama law does not mandate that he issue marriage licenses.

He also cited Alabama Law Code Section 30-1-7, which he said gives Probate Judges discretion regarding the performance of marriage ceremonies.

“The word ‘may’ implies that I have a choice,” Allen said. “At this time, I am exercising my right to choose not to issue any marriage licenses to anyone.”

Interestingly, Allen is also citing Alabama's "license to discriminate" law — the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment — which states that, "Governments should not burden religious exercise without compelling justification." Alabama is the only state that has enshrined a Religious Freedom law — known as a RFRA — in its state Constitution. More from Allen: 

“I believe that the Alabama Constitution and federal law protect my right to both live my life as a Christian and perform my elected duties,” Allen said. “The way that the law allows me to do that is by giving me the discretion to end the issuance of marriage licenses, and that is the legal course I am taking.”

Rogue Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has advised probate judges they don't have to issue same-sex marriage licenses, arguing the state isn't bound by federal court rulings on the issue, which prompted an ethics complaint from the Southern Poverty Law Center.

According to The Troy Messenger, probate judges in Chilton, Elmore and Geneva counties have said they will stop performing marriages but may continue to issue marriage licenses. 

The Demopolis Times reports that Marengo County Probate Judge Laurie Hall will still issue marriage licenses but will not sign them: 

“I have been advised that licenses must still be made available through the Probate Office; thus, begrudgingly, licenses will remain available through the Probate Office until and unless I am notified and advised otherwise," Hall said. "Marriage licenses are processed through the Vital Statistics division of the Alabama Department of Public Health, which has informed the Probate Judges Association that, despite the absence of the signature of the Probate Judge, licenses will still be accepted and processed. Based on that information, I will not be placing my signature on marriage licenses. I continue to pray for our county, state and country, and the leaders and citizens thereof, and ask for your prayers, as well.”

Despite the resistance from some probate judges, the Alabama Department of Public Health is preparing for the possible arrival of same-sex marriage on Monday — issuing new gender-neutral license forms that replace "bride" and "groom" with "first listed spouse and "second listed spouse." 



  1. boxer says

    Actually the marengo county judge seems worse. Who wants an unsigned license “issued begrudgingly” by a judge busy “praying for my county, state and country”? I’d advise Marengo county gay couples to drive a bit further when looking for a license.

  2. garryo says

    “Alabama’s agricultural production is dominated by the production of broilers. Almost 60% of the state’s livestock production is generated by these young chickens.” (from

    Um…honey…I saw this picture beside the bed one time.. oh yeah… hmmm…I loves me some chicken, even when it’s all growed up. [Deyshawn]

  3. Bob K says

    Don’t bother to argue with them. Either they are just doing what the people who keep them in office want, or they have that “Southern Thing”, that only the answer than would pass in church should be spoken.
    Wes, the probate judge, looks like he has been probed a lot.

  4. says

    Any judge that refuses to follow the law should be removed from the Bench. Judicial misconduct will get them every time.

    Let’s see how long they can hold out.

  5. tominsf says

    If this were about race and not sexuality, the feds would be down on them like a ton of bricks. Eventually.

    If one of these morons said “my religion doesn’t allow me to issue marriage licences to black folks,” stuff would start happening.

    And the courts are making it more and more clear that this is the same sort of discrimination.

  6. MiddleoftheRoader says

    No surprise. Alabama did the same thing with racial desegregation and banning inter-racial marriages.

    For example, although US Supreme Court ruled in 1967 that states could not ban inter-racial marriages, Alabama (and other states) continued to have these (unenforceable) laws on their books. In fact, local judges in Alabama continued to enforce that law until the Nixon administration got a federal district court t o fule in 1970 that the local judges had to comply with the Supreme Court’s ruling. Even after that, the Alabama Constitution continued to outlaw inter-racial marriages until 2000! At that time, although 59% of the voters voted to delete the ban from the Constitution, 41% of Alabama voters still favored banning inter-racial marriages. So………..

    How long will it take Alabama to actually stop hindering same-sex marriages, even if the US Supreme Court rules favorably? Probably another 15 – 20 years. It’s a cesspool down there.

  7. Pink Panther says

    Wordplay and stalling tactics achieve no credence in law Orval Faubus Jr.

    Whether the order comes from a federal court or SCOTUS makes no difference to your personal views. And you personal views in no way validate a choice to deny others their civil rights.

    When a state official responsible for issuing marriage licenses declines to do so then the state or federal government steps in. That official is either removed or another that can fulfill the job description replaces him. Licenses will be issued. There is no ‘may’ about it.

    No one in Pike County should have to travel to another county for a marriage license because of your personal prejudices.

  8. ben~andy says

    Chilton County ~44,000
    Elmore county ~80,000
    Geneva county ~27,000
    This Piker’s county ~33,000

    Total pop in bigoted counties so far inconveniencing their residents [who probably are straight in the VAST majority of people getting married there, since we tend to move to cities] ~184,000. Total Population of AL, 4.85 million. Under 4% of the hicks Alabama who live in these burbs will be inconvenienced. Heck the married birth rate might actually go down even lower because of this.

    3 of these losers circle around Montgomery which is in Montgomery County and it alone has ~229,000 residents. Jefferson Co [Birmingham] has over 658,000. Otherwise, only Madison Co [Huntsville] and Mobile Co [yes] break 200,000 and Tuscaloosa Co is just below that number as is Shelby Co [Columbiana]. Together, just those 6 mentioned have a population of well over 2M or nealy 1/2 of the AL pop.

    If the 9,045 residents of Greene Co are inconvenienced by their probate judge refusing to marry them, big whoop. The city of West Hollywood is 35,000. It is 2 square miles. 35 of AL’s 67 counties have a population SMALLER than that. Small towns are generally prejudiced because they don’t know anyone “like that” [what ever they’re thinking they’re better than] or they moved there “to get away from that.” Change will come to them whether they want it to or not. Or they’ll die. I personally am hoping that the Rapture, I think of it as the Capture where the aliens come down and take them all for anal probing, takes all of the holier than thou people so the rest of us can just get along w/o them.

  9. ScottCA says

    He should not be standing in front of U.S. flag, he should be standing in front of the flag of the treasonous Confederacy.

  10. huh says





  11. darkmoonman says

    Wow, what a surprise: a replay of when separate-but-equal was struck down for Blacks.

    Fire the judges for in ability to perform their jobs, and then disbar each of them.

  12. woodroad34 says

    Fire the bums. Is it any reason people don’t trust judges with obstinate and intemperate viewpoints (I’m thinking Scalia and Thomas who are constantly treated to events from extremely conservative entities and people just before having to adjudicate a sensitive case). These types of judges are unprofessional and inadequate. Anyone else would be fired from their jobs for insubordination.

  13. Bob says

    Pointless games. They’ll all have to eventually, “convictions” or not.

    Meanwhile they have no problem re-marrying divorced couples as many times as they like.

  14. Chuck Mielke says

    Well, one more soon-to-be annoyed white guy who will learn that his white, christian, male privilege doesn’t extend to how he performs his job, which is not that of a church leader.

  15. Bob K says

    The people who commented that the judges should be removed from office have no understanding of Ala f****** Bama
    They would be more likely to be recalled for following the law. Eventually someone will sue in federal court to force them to comply.

  16. JackFknTwist says

    ” To uphold the law, without fear or favour, malice or ill will towards any man…..”

    Yes, children, we once had judges who promised to do that, and they put aside their personal beliefs and preferences to do justice without fear or favour. It was long ago.

    But that was another country, and beside, the wench is dead.

  17. woody says

    i used to live in montgomery. i’d love to be at as many bapist services as i could squeeze in this weekend to whitness what will likely be an unprecedented weekend of hatetainment.

  18. says

    ‘Tis to laugh and cry at the same tine when an elected official does not KNOW the difference between religious and civil marriage! Oh, how the South was won and then lost again…

  19. Reality check says

    So why is this not phrased in terms of White homophobes as articles about black homophobes are phrased?

  20. Steeeevo says

    OMG Judge Wes Allen is a QUEEN. She needs to shut her pie hole and consult her husband. Traitor.

  21. Tarc says

    It will give many people a great amount of joy when these few people are charged in a court of law. Any individual’s personal nutter doesn’t get to override the rights of others. If they don’t want to issue licenses to gay couples, then they can find another line of work.

  22. Armando says

    I wish that one of these judges who claim religious exemption were Muslim. It would be fun to see a bunch of bigoted people’s heads explode.

  23. Rob Brewster says

    Sounds like any decision these judges make (or have made) should be ignored. Including previously granted marriage licenses to straight couple.