The United States Supreme Court has refused to intervene in a lower federal court ruling in Alabama on Monday, allowing that state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
According to Bryan Lyman of The Montgomery Advertiser, Alabama top judge's request to extend a hold on the lower court ruling was denied by the Supreme Court. However, there are some counties within the state that still refuse to issue such licenses.
"I have the man who runs this state's court system telling me not to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples," Probate Judge Al Booth said. "I have the federal judiciary telling me I will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples."
Booth, who works in Autauga County, told Lyman that his office will accept applications for same-sex marriages. However, he plans not to issue them until clarifications are made.
"I want to uphold my oath," Booth said. "But what law do I follow? Which constitution do I uphold?"
Lyman reported that other counties in Alabama have indicated they won't release marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
"Probate judges in at least a half dozen other counties have said they won't issue marriage licenses to gay couples: Covington County, whose county seat is Andalusia; Elmore County and Wetumpka; Marengo County and Linden; Morgan County and Decatur; Pike County and Troy; and Washington County and Chatom," Lyman wrote.
The swirling confusion about the status of same-sex marriage in Alabama started when U.S. District Judge Callie Granade calling the state's ban on the practice unconstitutional. According to Enjoli Francis of ABC World News, while a federal appeals court upheld Granade's decision, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered county probate judges on Sunday night not to issue marriage licenses to gay couples.
"Effective immediately, no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license that is inconsistent with (the Alabama Constitution)," Moore wrote.
Lyman reported that although the U.S. Supreme Court refused to extend the hold on gay marriage, Moore has made it clear that implementing same-sex marriage will be a tough slog in Alabama.
Out of the nine Supreme Court justices who made that decision, Reuters reported that Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, who are both conservatives, dissented. In his dissenting opinion, Thomas acknowledged that the high court's move to allow gay marriage in Alabama "may well be seen as a signal of the court's intended resolution."
"Although only two justices publicly dissented, the court order did not reveal whether any other justices voted to grant the stay," Reuters wrote.
Based on the Supreme Court's latest decision, Alabama has become the 37th state where same-sex marriages are now legal.