Alabama Supreme Court Orders a Stop to Same-Sex Marriage Licenses

PHOTO: A woman holds a flag as she joins other gay marriage supporters in Linn Park, at the Jefferson County courthouse, Feb. 9, 2015, in Birmingham, Ala.PlayHal Yeager/AP Photo
WATCH At Least 51 Alabama Judges Take a Stand Against Same-Sex Marriage

The Alabama Supreme Court handed down a ruling this evening, ordering a stop to the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses by probate judges.

The order comes after the Elmore County's probate judge requested the state's supreme court for further guidance in regards to issuing licenses.

In the ruling, the supreme court cites an effort to comply with Alabama law, which states marriage is between one man and one woman, as the reason to halt same-sex marriage licenses.

"As it has done for approximately two centuries, Alabama law allows for 'marriage' between only one man and one woman," the ruling said. "Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to this law. Nothing in the United States Constitution alters or overrides this duty."

Alabama's probate judges now have five days to file a letter stating why they should not be bound to the court's decision.

The order today comes after a federal appeals court ruled last month against delaying the overturning of Alabama's gay-marriage ban, which U.S. District Judge Callie Granade called unconstitutional.

State Attorney General Luther Strange responded to the appeals court ruling by asking the U.S. Supreme Court for a stay on the marriages until the high court took up the nationwide issue in the spring.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a vocal opponent of gay marriage, then ordered county probate judges to refuse marriage licenses to gay couples, despite Granade's having ruled that probate judges had a legal duty to issue the licenses.

On Feb. 9, the U.S. Supreme Court opted not to halt the start of the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in the state, but Moore said he would fight until the justices ruled.