(MOBILE, Ala., July 1, 2015)–Four civil rights groups representing Alabama same-sex couples in a federal class-action lawsuit asked U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade to confirm that her injunction directing all state probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is in effect and requires immediate compliance.
Although most of Alabama’s county probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, a minority appear to be confused about their obligations under Judge Granade’s order. Today’s filing by the civil rights groups asks Judge Granade to provide guidance to these outlier counties by confirming that her order is now in effect and requires all probate judges in the state to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples on equal terms with opposite-sex couples.
In her May 21 order, Judge Granade directed all Alabama probate judges to stop enforcing the state’s marriage ban – effective immediately after the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling affirming marriage equality. The Supreme Court issued its decision last Friday, and the injunction prohibiting enforcement of the ban went into effect the same day.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, the National Center for Lesbian Rights and the Southern Poverty Law Center, which represent the plaintiff couples in the Alabama federal case, filed the request with the court.
The lawsuit—Strawser v. Strange—was brought by five same-sex couples. It initially resulted in an order from Judge Granade requiring the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Mobile County. The order was expanded in May to cover all Alabama counties. A violation of Judge Granade’s order may result in a county probate judge being held liable for contempt of court, attorneys’ fees, or other sanctions as determined by the court.
On Monday, the Association of County Commissions of Alabama, which provides legal advice and insurance coverage to counties, advised county probate judges to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples immediately. The governor and state attorney general have likewise stated that they will comply with the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.