Tag Archives: Alabama Senate

Alabama Senate Revives, Passes Bill to Abolish Marriage Licensing

The Alabama Senate passed a revived version of a bill on Tuesday with a 23 to 3 vote that would end marriage licensing in the state in an effort to resolve ongoing disputes over same-sex marriage.

If SB143 were to become law, couples would no longer have to seek permission to marry from a probate office and would instead file their own contracts with the state.

The contract process does include some limitations. The Tenth Amendment Center’s Mike Maharrey wrote, describing the limits on who would be able to file a marriage contract, “Minors between the ages of 16 and 18 would have to obtain parental permission before marrying, the state would not record a marriage if either party was already married and the parties could not be related by blood or adoption as already stipulated in state law. Under SB143, the state would record same-sex marriages.

Currently, Alabama state law does not force probate judges to sign off on every marriage, and following the Supreme Court ruling Obergefell v. Hodges which found state-level bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, some officials have been refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, claiming that to do so conflicts with religious beliefs.

[RELATED: DONEGAN: Kim Davis Shows Why County Clerks Should Not Be Involved in Approving Marriages]

Bill sponsor Sen. Greg Albritton (R-Range) told WSFA-TV, “The left says well fine let them resign or force them to do it over their own objections. This bill fixes that problem.

He added, “Marriage in our state has changed. We now are required to allow that to occur so our laws have changed now. We need to bring our law in compliance with that.

According to ABC News, bill opponent Rep. Patricia Todd (D-Birmingham), Alabama’s only openly-gay legislator, said the bill is unnecessary and that probate judges need to “do their job.

[RELATED: TX State Rep. Calls for Special Session to “Divorce Marriage from Government”]

Truth in Media reported last year on a previous effort to pass the bill which failed.

Reason notes that the most recent attempt to pass the bill, which took place last September, failed despite a majority of legislators in both houses voting in favor because the bill was introduced under unusual circumstances during a special budgeting session which requires a two-thirds vote instead of a majority.

Sen. Albritton says that valid Alabama marriage contracts would work the same as marriage licenses in terms of how taxes, disputes, and other legal issues are handled.

Upon passing the Senate, the bill has been referred to the House Judiciary Committee.

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Alabama Senate Approves Bill to Abolish Marriage Licensing

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