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Alabama Supreme Court stalls on same sex marriage

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By Alton Mitchell

As many are now familiar with the Supreme Court of the United States passed down a 5-4 decision making same sex-marriage legal in all 50 states. Some have cited the events leading up to this decision as the new civil rights movement in America. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the case and cited equal dignity in the eyes of the law and that being a protected right under The Constitution.

The events leading up to the legalization of same sex-marriages has been a battle in the State of Alabama. In January of this year a federal judge found that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriages was unconstitutional.

That ban dated back to a 2006 voter approved Amendment 774 to the state Constitution known as the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment. That amendment made it constitutional law that in Alabama marriage can only be between a man and a woman. In February in compliance with the Federal District Court Judges ruling probate offices were suppose to begin issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples in Alabama. However Alabama’s Supreme Court Justice Roy Moore sent word to county probate judges telling them that they did not have to follow the Federal Judges orders and not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in the state.

The events caused for much confusion until the Supreme Court of the United States was able to clarify this month that it is unconstitutional to block marriage of any individual. They were faced with a similar dispute in the 1950’s during the case of Loving v. Virginia in which that states ban on interracial marriage was challenged and found to be unconstitutional. Many have cited that case as a precedent to the case the Supreme Court just finished hearing.

However despite the federal ruling the state of Alabama has again found a way to not adhere to the higher courts decision. On Tuesday the Alabama State Supreme Court ordered probate judges in Alabama not to issue same-sex marriage licenses for a period of 25 days.

It is believed this was done because there is a 25 day period to file a petition to have a case heard before the United States Supreme Court. The ruling and order by Alabama’s Supreme Court is confusing because by law the state of Alabama is suppose to follow the ruling of the higher court.

Failure for a probate to issue the license and follow the Supreme Court’s ruling does hold a possibility of being found in contempt of court. It appears the battle on this controversial topic is still far from over.

The state Supreme Court also passed down a recent ruling that can have a huge impact on economics for East Central Alabama. The court ruled that the state of Alabama cannot keep property seized in a 2013 raid of the massive Victoryland Casino in Macon County. The Supreme Court cited the Equal Protection Clause of the United States Constitution in saying that the State of Alabama was wrong in allowing some casinos to operate in the state and not others such as Victoryland.

This ruling has paved the way for the Casino to reopen. Not only was the massive complex off of Interstate 85 a tourist destination, but it was also the largest employer in the county and did provide jobs for individuals in surrounding counties as well including Chambers County. Owner Milton McGregor has indicated that he plans to get the facility back up and running. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange plans to possibly appeal the decision. If the decision is appealed it can possibly delay the re-opening of Victoryland.

As this week wraps up the Supreme Court of Alabama has made rulings in two highly controversial cases that may only be beginning. Gambling and the right to marry both hold strong meaning in the hearts of those whom are closely affected by the subjects and it appears the fight may only be beginning for both of these issues.

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