In Alabama, county officials are caught between an order from the state's chief justice not to issue same-sex marriage licenses and a federal judge's ruling legalizing gay marriage—and most of them have decided to just stop issuing any marriage licenses. After the Supreme Court refused to keep the federal decision on hold yesterday, nine counties began issuing same-sex marriage licenses, 12 refused to issue them, and the remaining 46 completely stopped issuing marriage licenses, reports the Washington Post, which notes that rights groups compare the actions of the defiant chief justice and probate judges to state officials' battle against desegregation in the 1960s.
Many couples denied licenses in holdout counties traveled to the mostly urban counties that granted them, including Jefferson County. "At the end of the day, it's still a very simple legal analysis: You've got a federal court order," a judge there tells the New York Times. But in Elmore County, a judge who refused to grant same-sex marriage licenses tells the Times that federal judges have no more authority to question the state's position on marriage than they do "Alabamians' selection of a state bird." Only two Supreme Court justices, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, dissented from the decision to allow weddings to proceed, which is seen as a strong indication of how the court will rule on the issue in June, reports Reuters. (Read more gay marriage stories.)