July/August 2019 Church & State Magazine - July/August 2019

Alabama Removes Local Officials From Marriage Licensing

  Rob Boston

The legal requirements for marriage are being stream­lined in Alabama under a new law.

The provision takes effect at the end of this summer. Under the new law, couples who want to get married in Alabama will have to file an affidavit in probate court.

The change removes probate judges – local officials akin to county clerks – from the process. Some probate judges refused to issue marriage licenses to any couples rather than give them to same-sex couples in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2015 decision in favor of marriage equality. 

“It gets the state out of granting permission for people to get married, which a license is,” said state Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Dist. 22), who sponsored the legislation. “Now, if a couple chooses to be married, that’s between themselves, or their church, their family. The state would not have a say there.”

The measure passed overwhelmingly, but there were some opponents. State Rep. Neil Rafferty (D-Dist. 54) reminded Fox10 News in Mobile that the law came about because some probate judges refused to serve LGBTQ residents.

“It came from the fact that it was to protect people who were unwilling to do their job,” Rafferty said.

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