By Roman Orsini
In Alabama, a challenge from the federal government to the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is underway. In some counties, gay couples have already wed amidst the clash between state and federal judges.
According to NBC, on Friday, Jan. 23, a federal judge in Mobile, Ala. declared the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and struck down its prohibitions.
Roy Moore, the chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, subsequently instructed local judges to deny gay couples’ marriage licenses, rejecting the federal court ruling. Most local judges complied with Moore’s order.
According to Reuters, in 42 of Alabama’s 67 counties, courts are still upholding the marriage ban while others began to subscribe to the federal court’s guidance on the issue. Beginning on Monday, Feb. 9, gay couples in some of Alabama’s counties were granted marriage licenses for the first time.
“There’s nothing in the U.S. Constitution that authorizes the Supreme Court … to misinterpret the word marriage to include something outside that,” Moore said.
He rejected the power of the government to “redefine marriage” against the traditional state view.
Last month, the U.S. Supreme Court agreed to decide whether or not states can ban gay marriage. The deliberation is ongoing, and a decision is due by the end of June.
Currently, the legality of same-sex marriage resembles an uneven patchwork, in which states set their own standards. In Alabama, the law has become even more ambiguous as it varies from county to county. According to CNN, same-sex marriage is legal in 37 states. In recent years, the federal government has acted to strike down bans within the remaining states.
A Supreme Court decision could potentially clarify the legality of same sex marriage or lead to greater fragmentation in states which insist on preserving their restrictions.