Judges Use 1961 Law to Avoid Gay Marriage
Out of the 67 counties in the State of Alabama, judges in at least 9 have quit issuing marriage licenses, using a 1961 state law which makes it optional for counties to issue marriage licenses.
According to AL.com, the law states, "Marriage licenses may be issued by the judges of probate of the several counties." The language of the law was to give judges the opportunity to avoid issuing marriage licenses in the integration era. It was established by a pro-segregation legislature.
Because the law says licenses MAY be issued and not SHALL, it provides an option, and at least 9 judges are choosing not to issue marriage licenses. For some, it is a matter of violating religious beliefs. Should the language of the law be changed to make it mandatory for judges to issue marriage licenses? If so, would being forced to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples violate a judge's right to practice his religion? Should same-sex couples just ignore the feelings of the judges in their counties and be married where they can since the law protects their assets, regardless of where they were married?