Truth In Media recently reported on Alabama Senate Bill 377, a legislative proposal aimed at solving an internal dispute over same-sex marriage. On May 19, the bill, which would end marriage licensing in the state and replace it with a contract process, passed the Alabama Senate with 22 voting in favor and 3 voting in opposition.
In January of this year, a federal court legalized same-sex marriage in Alabama, temporarily allowing some couples to marry before the Alabama Supreme Court issued an injunction, halting the practice. During the period of time in which same-sex marriages were allowed in the state, some local probate judges were refusing to sign off on same-sex licenses, effectively nullifying some couples’ right to marry.
In an effort to resolve the issue in advance of a potential future in which same-sex marriages may be declared legal once again, Senate Bill 377 would remove the requirement that couples obtain a license from a probate judge and replace it instead with a contract process requiring only a signature by a notary public, clergy member, or attorney. The bill would only allow two adult parties to join in marriage and would prohibit currently-married people from marrying a second time.
According to the Tenth Amendment Center’s blog, bill sponsor State Senator Greg Albritton (R-Range) said, “When you invite the state into those matters of personal or religious import, it creates difficulties… Early twentieth century, if you go back and look and try to find marriage licenses for your grandparents or great grandparents, you won’t find it. What you will find instead is where people have come in and recorded when a marriage has occurred.” Senator Albritton wants to abandon the state’s recent experiment in marriage licensing and instead return to the older system where couples choose who they want to marry without government approval.
The Tenth Amendment Center’s Michael Boldin said in support of the bill, “Licenses are used as a way to stop people from doing things… My personal relationship should not be subject to government permission.”
“The intent or motives behind this bill are a moot point. By removing the state from the equation, no one can force another to accept their marriage, nor can they force another to reject that person’s own beliefs regarding an institution older than government,” wrote Shane Trejo for the Tenth Amendment Center.
Now that Senate Bill 377 has passed through the Alabama Senate, it moves on to the state’s House Judiciary Committee, where it will seek approval for a full vote before the Alabama House of Representatives.
UPDATE: Alabama House Rejects Bill to Abolish Marriage Licensing