A battle is brewing between the U.S. Supreme Court and the state of Alabama over same-sex marriage.
In an order issued Monday morning, the U.S. Supreme Court announced it had turned down an application by the state to stay the lower court decisions until the justices resolve the issue of whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees a right to same-sex marriage.
The high court’s action came just hours after Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered probate judges not to issue or recognize same-sex marriage licenses in the state.
In a six-page letter, Moore denounced the previous federal court decision to allow same-sex marriages in the state, writing that it caused “confusion,” the Montgomery Adviser reported.
Moore’s letter, arguing that federal court rulings on the issue were not binding on the states, came a day before same-sex marriages were to be made legal in Alabama. A stay also expired Sunday evening on two decisions by U.S. District Judge Ginny Granade, who in January ruled that both Alabama’s constitutional amendment and law banning same-sex marriage violated equal protection rights of same-sex couples under the 14th Amendment.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruling Monday provided no explanation from the justices who declined to block the effect of Granade’s decisions.
However, Justices Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia dissented from the high court’s action, with Thomas writing that the court’s “ordinary practice” is to let such laws take effect while the Supreme Court hears arguments and prepares a decision on the laws’ constitutionality.
The U.S. Supreme Court announced in January that it will take on the issue of whether same-sex couples can marry nationwide. Arguments are set to begin in late April, with a decision to come before the term’s end in June.