The Alabama House of Representatives passed a bill Thursday that would end the state’s marriage-license requirement. It would also help same-sex couples get married, without a judge’s signature looming between them and the aisle.
Since 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages, some conservative Alabama judges ceased issuing marriage licenses to avoid condoning same-sex weddings. If signed into law by Gov. Kay Ivey (R), the legislation would act as a workaround, creating marriage certificates that no longer require the approval of probate judges. Instead, couples must file sworn documents that the judges will record.
A new affidavit would require couples to affirm that they are not already married and are legally competent and old enough to marry; under state law, a person must be 18 years old to wed without parental consent and 16 years old to marry with parental consent.
“As long as the affidavits, forms and data are provided,” the bill says, the probate judge has “no authority to reject any recording of marriage.”
State Sen. Greg Albritton (R), the bill’s sponsor, proposed the change so that anyone can obtain a marriage document, in any Alabama county, notwithstanding a probate judge’s personal beliefs about same-sex marriage, AL.com reported.
Rep. Neil Rafferty, the only openly gay member of the Alabama House, voted against the marriage license bill.
The bill was “born out of prejudice ... even though in and of itself it does create a system that treats everyone equal before the state,” AL.com quoted him as saying.
Rafferty continued, “I think it’s far less about good governance and more about protecting folks that don’t want to do their jobs."
Thursday’s vote on marriage licenses came days after Ivey signed a near-total abortion ban into law, prohibiting the procedure in almost all circumstances — including in cases of rape and incest.