This Monday, February 9, many same-sex couples were lined up outside probate offices all across Alabama, with the hopes of finally being able to be wed. In Calhoun County (and many other counties) however, those hopes were crushed—temporarily.
U.S. District Judge Callie Granade overturned Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban on January 23, ruling it unconstitutional. Two days later, she placed a stay on the ban, giving state legislatures the chance to take the issue to the circuit court, which took no action regarding the matter.
The U.S. Supreme Court then denied a request that would have extended the state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Sunday night, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore ordered probate officers around the state to refuse to issue or recognize same-sex marriage licenses. For many, it is unsurprising that Moore voiced his biblical views again after the dispute about the Ten Commandments display forced him to leave his post.
On Monday morning in Calhoun County, Probate Judge Alice K. Martin upheld Moore’s orders.
“We were prepared to give licenses this morning… We will follow court orders, but this is a direct order to me, and I am just trying to follow the law. We will be prepared to give licenses as soon as we hear from the next court order,” she said to all the same-sex couples, supporters, and those opposed.
This, of course, disappointed Calhoun County residents Vicky Miles and Melissa Angle, who were at the probate office two weeks ago hoping to get a license.
Miles said, “We are still going to try here in our county—this is our home.”
Another couple expressed similar feelings; Alisha Gordon and Teresa Smith were also in line to receive a marriage license.
Gordon, dressed in a bridal veil said, “I’m very disappointed, and a little angry! We’ve been together eleven years. We feel like since this is a federal law, we should be following it.”
The couple, along with at least five other couples, then left the Calhoun County probate office to travel to Bessemer, where they were wed.
There were several others who were happy about Judge Martin’s decision to uphold Justice Moore’s order.
Josh Weldon stood at the probate office in support of marriage being defined as one man and one woman.
“We are not here out of hate; we are here out of love. If this were hate, we wouldn’t be telling them this is wrong,” said Weldon.
Brett Skinner, another supporter of traditional marriage, said, “God bless Alabama for what just happened.”
Cassidy McDougale and her girlfriend Shelby Youngblood were among the group of JSU students that attended this event in support of same-sex marriage.
“A lot of change is gonna be with our generation, so it is important for us to be here to show that. But, it is also important for older generations to be here supporting this cause as well. This is a human rights issue, so everyone should be involved,” said McDougale.
Jessica Forbus also attended and she was happy to support the same-sex couples that were here.
“Especially in this county, it is important for people to be here supporting. It is important to show that there are gay people and they are here. They aren’t out hiding in the dark, and we need to support them,” Forbus said.
Forbus returned on Wednesday after Alabama Governor Robert Bentley stated that probate judges across the state would not face punishment for issuing same sex marriage licenses.
Judge Martin personally called Miles and Angle Tuesday evening and told them that they could come back to the probate office in the morning and get a legal marriage license. Martin had a written statement prepared for those who came back to the probate office Wednesday morning.
“While I am of the opinion an Order with further instruction to the Probate Judges is necessary,” Martin wrote, “that has not been forthcoming, and the Supreme Court’s decision, by a 7 to 2 majority, has been the ultimate deciding factor in my decision today to issue marriage licenses to same-sex applicants.”
Calhoun County joined one of about twenty counties across the state of Alabama to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It is expected that an official decision regarding the state as a whole will be made over the course of the next few weeks.