I’ve written about how Alabama’s Senate voted in favor of getting rid of marriage licenses and replacing them with a probate judge recording the marriage after an engaged couple signs and submits an affidavit. Unfortunately, the House has also recently voted in favor of the legislature, and if Governor Kay Ivey signs the bill, it will become law, according to AL.com
It goes without saying that this bill was borne of a way to ease the consciousness of the probate judges who refused to give marriage licenses to same-sex couples, as ten counties in Alabama currently do not do so. With this new bill, probate judges will be required to accept and record official marriage documents. Senator Greg Albritton, the bill’s sponsor, said that it would also take away the religious aspect of marriage. This sounds like probate judges will just work around their responsibilities while still holding anti-gay views though…
Representative Neil Rafferty, an openly gay man, was one of the people who voted against the bill, even though it would technically treat people equally under the law. His reasoning for not signing in favor of the bill is because he believes that it was born out of prejudice because it was created because some people didn’t want to accept the results of Obergfell v. Hodges. Rafferty also said he thinks that “it’s far less about good governance and more about protecting folks that don’t want to do their jobs.” I suppose I’m inclined to agree with him somewhat, as a bill that was created out of prejudice would presumably have some loopholes and I can see how some probate judges will find a way to work around the law, but it does treat everyone as equals, so I guess it’s not all bad?
Representative Wes Allen, who voted in favor of the bill, said that he believes that marriage is between one man and one woman and that eighty percent of Alabamians agree with him, so by not having to issue marriage licenses, probate judges will still allow people to marry without betraying their personal beliefs. He believes that by signing a marriage license, probate judges are endorsing the marriage, whether it’s between one man and one woman or two men. Considering that same-sex marriage became legal across the country in 2015, the right and legal thing to do is to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. After all, it’s not like signing the licenses will turn the probate judges gay, it will just allow two people who love each other to get married, but such a notion might become moot relatively soon.
What do you think? Is this bill acceptable in that it requires probate judges to treat everyone equally, or is this a not-so-clever cover up for the judges to avoid their responsibilities? Either way, going this far because some judges refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples is a bit ridiculous in my opinion.