Montgomery Co. Probate Judge, lawmakers sound off on marriage li - WSFA.com Montgomery Alabama news.

Montgomery Co. Probate Judge, lawmakers sound off on marriage license elimination bill

Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed. (Source: WSFA 12 News) Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed. (Source: WSFA 12 News)
MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) -

If you're getting married soon, the way you legalize your union could change.

The Alabama Senate has approved a bill that would do away with the requirement for probate judges to sign marriage licenses.

Some say this is a way for probate judges to sidestep issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, others say it simplifies the process.

When Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed first heard about Senate Bill 20, he says he rolled his eyes.

“I just don't think it's anything that's necessary, I think we have bigger priorities that the legislature should work on and this is not one of them,” said Judge Reed.

Reed says Senator Greg Albritton's marriage license elimination bill is an overreach.

"I think he says that because I'm Republican,” said Albritton, R-Senate District 22.

Albritton's bill would eliminate probate judges and clergy from having to sign a marriage license. Instead, a couple will offer a probate judge a notarized document they meets the criteria for getting married.

"We at this point have to bring the state law in compliance with the federal law,” said Albritton.

While Albritton says, this is way to eliminate controversy, Reed says this is a step backwards for the state of Alabama.

"It’s a matter of preventing the state from rendering an opinion or decision on whether someone can marry or not,” said Albritton.

"I don't think there's any doubt that this is a reaction to the same-sex marriage ruling and that's unfortunate. Most of the probate judges have stopped performing weddings that's their prevue they still many of them will issue licenses,” said Reed.

The Senate District 22 republican says his bill will make it easier and less expensive for the court to operate but Reed disagrees.

"I think you need a government entity to help regulate and enforce marriage laws in the state of Alabama and I think removing it, based on what I understand the bill to do, really takes that out of the process and that could be problematic down the line,” said Reed.

Some of those problems we could see, according to Montgomery County's Probate Judge? Not having the ability to verify ID or the ability to verify that someone is beyond a divorce.

Reed says bills like this could send a message to the entire country.

“Are we the Alabama of the 60’s? Or are we the Alabama of the 2020’s? I think by passing legislation like this and introducing legislation like this, it reinforces the image that Alabama really has not made the type of growth that we want companies, that we want people, that we want the nation to believe that we’ve made and I think we’ve made,” said Reed.

Senate Bill 20 has cleared the Senate, now it goes to the House and Albritton hopes to have it in committee sometime next week.

“So this procedure is changing the procedure that we've had to make it as easy, uncomplicated to accomplish that,” said Albritton. 

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