Senate approves move to eliminate marriage licenses

Published: Mar. 17, 2016 at 1:22 AM CDT|Updated: Mar. 17, 2016 at 2:35 AM CDT
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MONTGOMERY CO., AL (WSFA) - The Alabama Senate just passed a bill that would take Alabama out of the marriage license business.

Some say this is an unnecessary loophole around accepting the law of the land since the U.S Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage. Others say this accommodates the number of probate judges in Alabama who refuse to issue marriage licenses out of fear of marrying a gay couple.

If this piece of legislation were to go into effect, couples would file a form or contract recording their marriage instead of having probate judges issue marriage licenses.

Republican Sen. Greg Albritton says the change would end controversy over marriage licenses while ensuring that people can marry whomever they choose.

"What my bill does is reestablish procedures in which a marriage can be established in Alabama," Albritton said.

Albritton acknowledges that he's sponsoring the bill because of the legalization of same-sex marriage.

"Alot of controversy over who should and who could. The religious liberty comes to play there, and this bill removes that simply because it's not statutory to have a ceremony," Albritton said.

The bill now moves to the House, where Democratic Rep. Juandalynn Givan says she will fight it.

"Yet again this is a bill that was designed to further attack what is now law. It is the law of the land. Gay marriage is legal not only in the state of Alabama but in this country," Givan said.

Some of Givan's constituents from Birmingham agree.

"It seems unnecessary to me. I think they need to just let people get married that want to get married," said Cheryl Bourn, a Birmingham resident.

Albritton says he's trying to eliminate conflicts over what marriage is, taking probate judges out of the equation since a number of them have stopped issuing marriage licenses all together.

"The left says well fine let them resign or force them to do it over their own objections. This bill fixes that problem," Albritton said.

While some say the bill is a political work-around, others say it could equal the playing field.

"Takes away the whole church and state aspect of it so no longer can the state say this is a violation of their religious beliefs so people are now free to do what they want," said Montgomery resident Brian Canady.

Albritton says the marriage form that would replace a standard license would not affect couples who file their taxes and to his knowledge Alabama would be one of the first states in the country to have a process where marriage can be established without a traditional marriage license.

"Marriage in our state has changed. We now are required to allow that to occur so our laws have changed now. We need to bring our law in compliance with that. It's not something I particularly want to do but its something that needs to be done," Albritton said.

The bill's sponsor is working to have the bill in House committee sometime next week.

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