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Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Lashes Out At Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore says the federal court marriage ruling does not permit same-sex couples to be married in the state. "[T]he issuance of such licenses would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama," he says. [Update: Advocacy group files ethics complaint against the justice on Wednesday.]

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WASHINGTON — Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore lashed out Tuesday at federal courts that "have imposed by judicial fiat same-sex marriage in 21 states of the Union," arguing that he will continue to follow his state's amendment barring such marriages in spite of a federal trial court ruling to the contrary.

In a letter to Alabama Gov. Robert Bentley, Moore details what he calls "legitimate concerns" about whether the federal courts have the authority to consider the constitutionality of Alabama's marriage laws — asking the governor not to enforce the ruling.

Citing the Bible and an 1825 letter from Thomas Jefferson, Moore declares, "Our State Constitution and our morality are under attack by a federal court decision that has no basis in the Constitution of the United States."

Moore's letter came on the same day the federal judge in question, U.S. District Court Judge Callie Granade, issued a second ruling on the issue. Although the first case involved a plaintiff same-sex couple who had married in California and sought only to have their marriage recognized in Alabama — leading to questions about whether Granade's order could cover marriage licenses — Tuesday's ruling involved a same-sex couple who "seek to marry in Alabama."

The second ruling, however, is unlikely to address Moore's complaints.

Saying he was "encouraged" by the Alabama Probate Judges Association, which advised against issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Moore said he was "dismayed" by state judges who said they would go ahead and grant licenses. Specifically, he said that "the issuance of such licenses would be in defiance of the laws and Constitution of Alabama" because district court rulings "are not controlling authority in [the Alabama Supreme] Court." As such, Moore wrote, "I will continue to recognize the Alabama Constitution and the will of the people overwhelmingly expressed in the Sanctity of Marriage Amendment."

Moore — who gained national prominence in 2003 when he refused to remove a monument of the Ten Commandments from the courtroom and was removed from office — goes on to ask Alabama Gov. Bentley to keep enforcing the marriage amendment, noting "I stand with you to stop judicial tyranny and any unlawful opinions issued without constitutional authority."

Granade's two rulings currently are on hold until Feb. 9, pending the state's appeal for a stay from the 11th Circuit Court of Appeals.

The Southern Poverty Law Center filed an ethics complaint against Moore on Wednesday. The complaint was filed with the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama. In a conference call with reporters, SPLC officials noted that the group had filed a similar complaint against Moore in 2003.

Chris Geidner is the legal editor for BuzzFeed News and is based in Washington, DC. In 2014, Geidner won the National Lesbian & Gay Journalists Association award for journalist of the year.

Contact Chris Geidner at chris.geidner@buzzfeed.com.

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