Alabama AG opposes class action status of same-sex marriage lawsuit

Alabama AG opposes class action status of same-sex marriage lawsuit

MONTGOMERY, AL (WSFA) - Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange is opposing efforts by same-sex marriage supporters who want to update a federal lawsuit to class action status, a move that could force the state's 68 probate judges to grant marriage licenses to gay couples.

Strange is asking U.S. District Judge Callie Granade to deny the motion by plaintiffs in the case of Strawser and Humphrey v. Strange, saying the judge who struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage in January should wait because the U.S. Supreme Court will take up the issue in June.

The Attorney General says unnecessary chaos has been created in Alabama since Judge Granade's ruling on January 23 found the state's bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional on the grounds they violated the Equal Protection Clause of the 14th Amendment.

The attorney general states:

“When this court enjoined Attorney General Strange from enforcing Alabama's marriage laws to the extent those laws prohibited ‘same-sex marriage,' Attorney General Strange immediately moved for a stay…Among other grounds, Attorney General Strange argued that a fundamental redefinition of marriage in Alabama without the benefit of full appellate review would lead to chaos, confusion, and additional litigation that could be avoided if the Court's orders were simply stayed a few months until the United States Supreme Court resolved the issue.”

“Since then, the number and rate of developments has been dizzying as officials came to different conclusions about their legal obligations and as parties tried to intervene in the initial cases and bring other officials under the Court's injunction,” the Attorney General's motion added.

“The Court should not further undermine the relationship between the state and federal courts by granting Plaintiffs leave to drastically change the nature of this case at this late date. Granting the relief the Plaintiffs seek will only add to all the chaos and confusion in Alabama, and will only increase the tension between the state and federal courts.”

“The only wise and judicious course of action is to deny the motion to amend and wait until June when the United States Supreme Court will resolve the constitutionality of same sex marriage in a way that will be binding on all federal judges and all state officials.”

The Alabama Supreme Court advised probate judges not to follow the federal ruling shortly after attempts to appeal her stay, set to expire on February 9, failed at both the 11th Circuit and Supreme Court levels. Many of the state's probate judges moved forward anyway citing beliefs that the federal court ruling trumps the state. However, a 7-1 order by the State's high court on March 2 has effectively stopped the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses in every county.

Copyright 2015 WSFA 12 News. All rights reserved.