Alabama is the effectively the 37th state to recognize same-sex marriage, after the US Supreme Court denied a request that would have extended the state's ban.
Some same-sex couples, however, were disappointed when they were turned away from getting marriage licenses. “We are hoping today was the last day that we’re considered legal strangers in the eyes of the Alabama state government.” “We waited thirty- three years for this. I mean it’s a big disappointment.”
Some couples are being handed a copy of an order from Alabama’s Chief Justice Roy Moore turning them away. Moore says the federal judge's ruling, which says the ban on same-sex-marriage unconstitutional, isn't law.
He argues that the federal ruling doesn’t apply to state judges and only he has the authority over judges who issue marriage licenses. "Well, I think a redefinition of the word 'marriage' is not found within the powers designated to the federal government."
Moore said lifting the ban could have further repercussions. "Do they stop with one man and one man, or one woman and one woman? Or they go to multiple marriages, or they go to marriages between men and their daughters, or women and their sons?"
In 2002, Moore defied another Alabama’s federal ruling by installing a large monument engraved with the Bible's Ten Commandments in the building that houses the Alabama Supreme Court. A federal court ruled the monument had to be removed after complaints it violated a clause in the U.S. Constitution that forbids the endorsement of religion. But Moore refused, and was removed from his elected office in 2003. However, he was re-elected chief justice and took office in 2013.
Moore’s action this week is being compared to action taken by former Alabama Governor George Wallace, who believed in racial segregation and also defied a federal law. After a federal law ordered the desegregation of Alabama’s schools, Wallace stood in front of the University of Alabama in 1963 to try to stop the enrollment of two black students.
Meanwhile, the U.S. Supreme Court has said it will hear testimony this year on whether the U.S. Constitution guarantees all Americans the right to enter into same-sex marriages. Deborah Block, VOA News, Washington.