Marengo Probate Judge will not sign marriage licenses

Getting married in Marengo County will now have a new wrinkle. In the wake of the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals’ ruling that, in essence, backed U.S. District Judge Ginny Grenade’s decision to strike down the gay marriage ban in Alabama, the state’s probate judges have received a unique quandary.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore issued a 27-page memorandum earlier this week, informing probate judges that Grenade’s ruling in no way requires the issuance of marriage licenses to homosexual couples.

With the ruling set to go into affect Monday, Marengo County Probate Judge Laurie Hall has decided how her office will proceed.

“As you are certainly aware, there have been significant changes regarding ‘marriage’ in the state of Alabama in the past few weeks. Many Probate Judges across the state, including myself, have been working vigorously and exhaustively to do anything and everything we can to protect the laws we have sworn to uphold, and the citizens we represent,” Hall said Friday via written statement. “At this point, short of legal intervention from the U.S. or State Supreme Court, Federal Judge Grenade’s ruling will take effect as of Monday, February 9, 2015, making same-sex marriage legal in the state of Alabama. The Code of Alabama provides in Section 30-1-7 that performing marriage ceremonies is discretionary for the Probate Judge; consequently, the Marengo County Probate Office ceased the performance of any marriage ceremonies as of February 1, 2015.”

Hall continued by indicated that she cannot prevent the issuance of marriage licenses but that she also is not required to endorse them.

“I have been advised that licenses must still be made available through the Probate Office; thus, begrudgingly, licenses will remain available through the Probate Office until and unless I am notified and advised otherwise,” Hall wrote. “Marriage licenses are processed through the Vital Statistics division of the Alabama Department of Public Health, which has informed the Probate Judges Association that, despite the absence of the signature of the Probate Judge, licenses will still be accepted and processed. Based on that information, I will not be placing my signature on marriage licenses. I continue to pray for our county, state and country and the leaders and citizens thereof, and ask for your prayers, as well.”