Anyone wishing to apply for a marriage license in the Limestone County Probate Judge’s Office can now do so.
Probate Judge Charles Woodroof said the office began issuing licenses at 10:45 a.m. Monday morning to “anyone who qualifies,” meaning traditional and same-sex couples. He said no one had applied for a license as of noon.
Woodroof issued a moratorium on the issuing of all licenses Friday afternoon following the U.S. Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision allowing gay marriage in all 50 states. He cited a need to review the SCOTUS decision, which is something he did over the weekend. He’s also since had a chance to confer with county attorney Mark Maclin and receive guidance from the Association of County Commissions of Alabama.
“I wanted to get through the (Supreme Court’s) entire process and the majority’s reasoning and why they found how they found,” Woodroof said. “What we’ve done is follow the law and to make certain we didn’t violate any (lawsuits) out there prior to this.”
The ACCA sent a memo to probate judges recommending that they "follow the ruling of the U.S. Supreme Court beginning at 10:00 a.m. today."
The group, which provides liability insurance to the judges, has provided informal advice during a twisting legal battle over gay marriage.
The American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama and other organizations have said that probate judges could be found in contempt of court if they refuse.
Following U.S. District Judge Callie Granade’s late-January ruling that said probate judges have a constitutional duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Woodroof and nearly half of the state’s probate judges followed suit. However, Woodroof and those judges who complied with Granade were named in a writ of mandamus filed in February by the Alabama Policy Institute and Alabama Citizens Action Program.
Alabama Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore then issued a mandate ordering all probate judges to cease issuance of licenses to same-sex couples. Woodroof said he didn’t know if all prior legal filings would be dropped in light of the SCOTUS decision.
“As I understand it, there has been communication between the attorneys, but I haven’t seen anything about a filing a motion to dismiss,” Woodroof said.
When asked if any members of his staff have expressed concerns about helping same-sex couples seeking a license, Woodroof said that hasn’t happened.
“They understand our job is to follow the law,” he said.