Alabama: Gay Marriage Licenses Refused In Two Counties, Judge Says Freedom Of Religion Is At Stake

In Alabama, gay marriage licenses are being refused in both Pike and Covington county since two south Alabama judges have stood up against a recent U.S. District Court ruling that declared Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, recent polls find that most Americans believe wedding businesses should be allowed to refuse offering services to gay marriage ceremonies.

Covington County Probate Judge Ben Bowden announced he will not be issuing any same sex marriage licenses, but says he based this decision upon existing law and not personal or religious beliefs.

“I have concluded that I have a duty to uphold Alabama law until a court with authority over me directs me otherwise,” Bowden wrote. “The United States Supreme Court has agreed to hear and rule on a very similar case from another state this summer. I look forward to getting a definitive answer as soon as possible.”

Bowden said he is merely following instructions from Alabama Supreme Court chief justice Roy Moore, who gave Alabama probate judges a 27-page memorandum explaining why this is the case. Moore believes gay marriage is a state-level issue, so the Southern District Court of Alabama, which declared the same sex marriage ban unconstitutional, should not have the authority to overrule Alabama law. Moore says the only people affected by the lower court’s decision are the people named in the case.

Pike County Probate Judge Wes Allen opposed gay marriage, citing Alabama Code Section 30-1-9, which states “marriage licenses may be issued by the judges of probate of the several counties.” Allen says the word “may” gives discretionary power in regards to issuing marriage licenses in general.

Allen also cited the Alabama Religious Freedom Amendment in the Alabama Constitution, which states that “Government shall not burden a person’s freedom of religion.”

“I believe that the Alabama Constitution and federal law protect my right to both live my life as a Christian and perform my elected duties,” Allen stated according to WSFA. “The way that the law allows me to do that is by giving me the discretion to end the issuance of marriage licenses and that is the legal course I am taking.”