Alabama Set to Outlaw Marriage Licenses: 'The State Does Not Make Things Sacred'
An Alabama state senator who introduced a bill to outlaw marriage licenses said his proposal would solve the predicament of civil servants like Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis, who went to jail after refusing to sign a marriage license for a homosexual couple, despite the Supreme Court's legalization of gay marriage in Obergefell v. Hodges. His bill would solve this problem by drawing a clear line between sacred solemnization of marriage and the state's legal recognition of it.
"It's my belief that the state cannot make any kind of contract sacred," state Senator Greg Albritton (R., Baldwin County) told PJ Media in an interview on Thursday. "That's not its place, that's not its purpose. It doesn't have that religious authority to make something sacred, but it can make it binding for the purpose of the parties."
Albritton's bill (S.B. 20) passed the state Senate in early March. He said his goal is to resolve a judicial controversy. Eight Alabama counties have refused to issue marriage licenses since the Obergefell decision in June 2015, due to concerns the clerks would be forced to violate their consciences by endorsing homosexual marriages.
"We get this passed, everyone in the state will be able to take care of their business," Albritton said. S.B. 20 would "eliminate the need for the ceremony and the signing of the minister," streamlining the process of getting married legally. All a couple would need to do is sign and notarize a document affirming their legal ability to get married, and the state would merely record it as a marriage.
"Sign it, notarize it, record it, you're done," the senator said. "The state would not be making the decision on who could or could not be married any longer."
This bill would reverse a legal process set up by Jim Crow laws, whereby probate judges can decide whether or not to issue marriage licenses. "Right now the law states that a probate judge may issue a license, but there's no requirement that they issue a license at all," Albritton explained. "Under my bill, they don't have an option."
But the fact that the judges don't have an option would free civil servants in Kim Davis's position. "It would remove her from that threat, real or perceived, of violating her principles, because this is no longer a matter of her approving someone getting married," the senator said. "All she's doing is recording the act that has occurred, that is outside her authority."
"Frankly, all of the judges in the state that I am aware of, who are in the similar position as Miss Davis, all feel that this would resolve their issues completely," Albritton added.