Probate judges must again decide whether to issue wedding licenses to gay couples after the Alabama Supreme Court ruled the state's ban on same-sex marriage is legal, despite a federal court's decision to the contrary.
The all-Republican court sided with a pair of conservative groups Tuesday night and ordered Alabama's 68 probate judges to stop issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.
A previous ruling by U.S. District Judge Callie Granade that gay-marriage bans violate the U.S. Constitution does not preclude the judges from following state law, which defines marriage as between a man and a woman, the court ruled.
It was not immediately clear what effect the court's ruling would have, or what probate judges would do after opening their doors Wednesday.
While a six-member majority of the nine-member court did not explicitly invalidate the marriages of hundreds of same-sex couples who obtained licenses in the state in recent weeks, the decision used the term "purported" to describe those licenses.
The court's most outspoken opponent of gay marriage, Chief Justice Roy Moore, recused himself from the case and did not participate in the writing of the unsigned 134-page decision.
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