The U.S. Supreme Court ruled that marriage equality is a constitutionally protected right on Friday, but some state officials were quick to resist the decision, either by delaying enforcement of the ruling or drafting legislation that would end state agencies’ involvement in issuing marriage licenses.
Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hood (D) said the decision is not yet effective in the state:
“The Supreme Court’s decision is not effective immediately in Mississippi. It will become effective in Mississippi, and circuit clerks will be required to issue same-sex marriage licenses, when the 5th Circuit lifts the stay of Judge Reeves’ order. This could come quickly or may take several days. The 5th Circuit might also choose not to lift the stay and instead issue and order, which could take considerably longer before it becomes effective.”
Mississippi Gov. Phil Bryant (R), House Speaker Philip Gunn (R) and State House Judiciary Chairman Andy Gipson (R) are considering all of their options to prevent same sex marriage licenses from being issued. Gipson suggested the state stop issuing marriage licenses, a path other states are considering taking after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
Two counties in Alabama, Pike County and Geneva County, won’t be issuing marriage licenses. Pike County hasn’t issued licenses since February, according to AL.com, and the probate judge, Wes Allen, announced that won’t change after the ruling. Geneva County Probate Judge Fred Hamic said he plans to close his office’s marriage license bureau permanently.
Chief Justice of the Alabama Supreme Court Roy Moore also says he will resist the ruling and shared a Facebook post from his wife, Kayla Moore, the head of The Foundation for Moral Law. The Facebook post read:
“Not only does the U.S. Supreme Court have no legal authority to redefine marriage, but also at least 2 members of the Court’s majority opinion were under a legal duty to recuse and refrain from voting. Their failure to recuse calls into question the validity of this decision.
This means we’ve got more work to do, but we are determined to do it,” said Foundation President Kayla Moore. “The Foundation is involved with a same-sex marriage case in the Middle District of Alabama, and that case will continue. There are issues in this case that the Supreme Court’s decision didn’t resolve.”
Louisiana Attorney Gen. Buddy Caldwell (R) made a statement on the decision yesterday, saying marriage equality “overturns the will of the people of Louisiana.” He said his office is not immediately enforcing the ruling because there wasn’t a specific mandate in the decision for Louisiana to issue marriage licenses.
“Therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana. The Attorney General’s Office will be watching for the Court to issue a mandate or order making today’s decision final and effective and will issue a statement when that occurs,” Caldwell said.
A Utah lawmaker has drafted legislation that would end the state’s issuance of marriage licenses, according to a Salt Lake City television station, Fox 13, which confirmed the story through another legislator. The sponsor of the legislation and its exact language are unknown because it is “protected legislation” and therefore not yet public knowledge.
Gov. Bill Haslam (R) and Attorney General Herbert Slattery (R) announced that they would not try to stop clerks from issuing marriage licenses. However, that doesn’t mean state lawmakers can’t pass legislation to make it more difficult for couples to get married.
Two state legislators, State Rep. Andy Holt (R) and State Rep. Bryan Terry (R), are drafting legislation that would “protect all religious clergy from performing same sex marriages, as well as, providing legal protection from being forced to perform same sex marriages on church property.”