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Despite the US Supreme Court ruling last year that declared bans on same-sex marriages unconstitutional, an Alabama justice has ordered judges not to issue marriage licences for such unions. State Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said the marriages are still not legal under Alabama's constitutional amendment barring the unions, which he insisted is still the law of the state.
Probate judges, who typically issue the certificates, "have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage licence contrary" to Alabama's law, ruled Moore. Alabama's Democratic Representative, Patricia Todd rebuked Moore, saying he doesn't get to "pick and choose" which US Supreme Court rulings he decides to follow. Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton said that same-sex marriage is the "law of the land – including in Alabama."
According to Moore, the state Supreme Court is still deciding how or if the ruling by the top court of the nation affects Alabama's law on same-sex marriage. Moore has indicated that the ruling by the top justices only applies to the four states whose laws the Supreme Court examined.
It is unclear what the next step will be in the state. The last time Moore defied a higher court, things did not go so well for him. The Alabama Court of the Judiciary removed Moore from his post as chief justice in 2003 for defying a federal court order to remove a memorial of the Ten Commandments from the state judicial building (but Alabama voters re-elected him chief justice in 2012).
Last summer, Kentucky County Clerk Kim Davis was jailed for five days for refusing to issue marriage licences with her name to same-sex couples because of religious reasons. In December Kentucky Matt Bevin issued an executive order stripping clerks' name from the licences. Davis continues to work as a county clerk.