Alabama Legislature Considers Bill That Would Abolish Marriage Licensing

Last Wednesday, Alabama Senate Bill 377 cleared the state’s Senate Judiciary Committee. The bill, sponsored by State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Range), would eliminate a requirement that marrying couples obtain a license from a probate judge in order to marry, replacing it instead with a marriage contract that, according to Decatur Daily, would require a signature from a notary public, clergy member, or attorney. The legislation is now eligible for a full vote by the Alabama Senate.

“The sanctity of marriage cannot be sanctified by government of men. That is where we have gotten ourselves in trouble,” said Senator Albritton to AL.com. “The purpose of Senate Bill 377 is to bring order out of chaos.”

According to the Montgomery Advertiser, same-sex marriage was temporarily legalized in the state earlier this year when a federal judge struck down the state’s ban on same-sex marriages in January. In March, the Alabama Supreme Court ordered a halt to the issuance of same-sex marriage licences. During the time in which same-sex marriage was temporary legal, some couples obtained licenses while some probate judges indicated that they would stop issuing marriage licenses at all in response, setting up a chaotic dispute.

Senator Albritton’s bill, modeled off of similar legislation that was recently passed by Oklahoma’s House of Representatives, would take away the ability of probate judges to deny same-sex couples the ability to marry in the event that same-sex marriage becomes legal again in the future when the federal and state courts resolve their dispute. “If the law should change in another couple of months or stand, the procedure is the same,” said Albritton. “People go to get married and they can’t get a license in some cases… The courts created a problem in the system, and I’m trying to resolve it in the easiest and simplest way.”