Just as it seemed America was resigned to — if not applauding — gay and lesbian marriages, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore has rocked the LGBT boat by ordering his state’s probate judges to not honor same-sex marriage licenses.
“Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act,” Moore wrote in his order that was issued Jan. 6.
The phrase “ministerial duty” refers to a July 2015 directive in which Moore argued “public officials are ministers of God assigned the duty of punishing the wicked and protecting the righteous.”
“You cannot serve two masters: you must pick — God or Satan,” he wrote.
“The criminal laws against homosexual sodomy are for the protection of the righteous, particularly the young, the weak, the vulnerable, who need the law to teach them right from wrong when in a vulnerable state,” Win Johnson, the director of the legal staff of the Administrative Office of Courts, wrote in addition to Moore’s July order.
“The U.S. Supreme Court, although it claims to have done so in 2003, cannot take something that God calls a crime and declare it not a crime,” Johnson also wrote.
Liberals and other gay rights supporters, who were flabbergasted and even amused by Moore’s July order, were outraged by the way Moore rang in the New Year in Alabama.
The Southern Poverty Law Center wants Moore kicked off the bench. The liberal organization has added his latest judicial order to an ongoing ethics complaint against Moore.
“Chief Justice Roy Moore is once again demonstrating that he is unfit to hold office,” SPLC President Richard Cohen said. “You would think after being removed from the bench once before that the chief justice would know better.”
Moore was removed from the office of chief justice 13 years ago because he refused to comply with a federal court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from a state judicial building.
Just as it did then, the Judicial Inquiry Commission, which is hearing the SPLC complaint against Moore, could recommend that he face ethics charges before the Alabama Court of the Judiciary.
State Rep. Patricia Todd, a lesbian Democrat who once threatened to “out” Republicans who were having extramarital affairs if they voted against her gay rights legislation, told WTVM-TV in Birmingham, Ala., that Moore only is trying to push Alabama and the U.S. backwards.
“Marriage equality is the law of the land. Most states and counties have complied and are moving on and he needs to do the same as well,” Todd said.
Jefferson County, Ala., Probate Judge Alan King described Moore’s order as “sad and pathetic,” and former federal judge John Carroll said Moore was only employing a delaying tactic to block gay marriages, a tactic that he said would wind up costing Alabama way too much in attorney fees.
Joyce White Vance and Kenyen Brown, the U.S. attorneys serving Alabama, released a statement in which they said it’s OK if Moore wants to debate a Supreme Court ruling. But they said he is “not free to disobey it.”
It might seem that Justice Moore is nothing but an anachronistic lone wolf, desperately lashing himself to the helm of his ship of conservative values that is being submerged by a tidal wave of modernistic thought.
But Liberty Counsel, the group of attorneys that backed Kim Davis’ fight against being forced to sign her name to gay marriage licenses in Kentucky, insists Moore is but one of a growing crowd of conservatives who are refusing to be cowed by the Obama administration.
WTVM-TV also reported that immediately following Moore’s order at least three Alabama counties stopped issuing all marriage licenses, and are waiting to hear more from their lawyers before doing anything else.
Matt Staver, the founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel, said despite the opinions of “five lawyers on the U.S. Supreme Court” regarding same-sex marriage, which was “lawless and without legal or historical support,” many judges and legislatures are rising up in defiance of the ruling.
He said Moore is being supported by those who share his conservative and religious mindset across America.
“State judiciaries and legislatures are standing up against the federal judiciary or anyone else,” Staver said, “who wants to come up with some cockeyed view that somehow the Constitution now births some newfound notion of same-sex marriage.”