Last week, Federal District Judge Callie V. S. Granade ruled that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. On Tuesday, she issued essentially the same opinion in the case of a different same-sex couple, staying it for two weeks so that it takes effect at the same time as the first decision. Nevertheless, there’s a significant difference between the two that could well impact marriage equality’s arrival in The Yellowhammer State.
The first ruling addressed the recognition of a same-sex marriage performed in another state, while this new ruling addressed a couple who attempted to marry in Alabama. Though in both cases, Granade ruled that the ban was unconstitutional, the fact that this case addressed the issuing of licenses in Alabama changed the scope of her injunction.
Over the weekend, the Alabama Probate Judges Association was adamant that judges would not have to issue marriage licenses because the first decision only enjoined the Attorney General from enforcing the state’s ban. The new injunction eliminates any confusion:
Accordingly, the court hereby ORDERS that the Alabama Attorney General is prohibited from enforcing the Alabama laws which prohibit same-sex marriage. This injunction binds the defendant and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit same-sex marriage.
State officials hope that because the Supreme Court has accepted a new marriage equality case, it might be more inclined to issue a stay in other cases like this one — something they have refused to do in recent months, allowing marriage equality to take effect in many states. If neither the Eleventh Circuit nor the Supreme Court extends Granade’s stay, marriage equality will take full effect in Alabama on February 9th.