The U.S. Supreme Court on Monday refused a request by Alabama’s attorney general to keep same-sex marriages in the state on hold, likely clearing the way for gay and lesbian couples to begin seeking marriage licenses there.
But the chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court created some last-minute confusion after he issued an order late Sunday telling probate judges in his state not to hand out the licenses to couples of the same sex.
Chief Justice Roy Moore said probate judges were not bound by a federal judge’s ruling last month that struck down the state’s ban on same-sex weddings.
U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade, an appointee of President George W. Bush, ruled in January that Alabama’s prohibition on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional but put her decision on hold until Monday.
Gay marriage advocates were quick to criticize Moore’s order and said couples still planned to request marriage licenses across the state on Monday. Alabama would be the 37th state to allow gay and lesbian couples to wed.
“This is a pathetic, last-ditch attempt at judicial fiat by an Alabama Supreme Court justice — a man who should respect the rule of law rather than advance his personal beliefs,” said Sarah Warbelow, legal director for the national Human Rights Campaign.