Doing his best imitation of George Wallace’s infamous attempt to block the desegregation of Alabama University 52 years ago, Alabama state supreme court Chief Justice Roy Moore tried to single-handedly stop the progress of marriage equality last night by ordering probate judges not to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples or recognize their unions.
Moore, whose only notable legal opinions so far are vindictive rulings against same-sex partners and a dissent in favor of Obama ‘birther’ nut Larry Klayman, first came to national prominence when he was elected to his office in 2001 solely on the strength of a promise to erect a two-ton graven image of the biblical Ten Commandments in the supreme court building lobby.
Moore’s refusal to comply with the inevitable federal court rulings against that monument resulted in his removal from office in 2003, but he was elected again in 2012 by riding on a new wave of Christofascist politics in Alabama. This late-night edict is sure to further endear Moore to the religious right, who consider him a hero for opining that freedom of religion only applies to Christians.
The order (available here in PDF format) cites Alabama’s state constitution — amended by referendum in 2006 during the height of state-level anti-equality initiatives — while once again rejecting the authority of federal courts, a plain violation of basic Constitutional law as taught to every first-year law student in America.
No one is sure what will happen this morning. The Eleventh Circuit court has ordered Alabama’s courthouses to issue marriage certificates to all couples regardless of gender today, and some probate judges have already announced their willingness to issue them, but others have already said they will refuse to marry anyone at all rather than be forced to treat all couples equally.
Moore’s order makes a pretense of trying to resolve that confusion, which he has helped to create.
Citing Moore’s habit of commenting on pending or future litigation in regards to the issue, the Southern Poverty Law Center has already asked the Judicial Inquiry Commission of Alabama to investigate his ethics violations and proffer charges in the Court of the Judiciary. Those calls will now redouble.
The broad advance of marriage equality in federal courts has already spurred bigoted lawmakers across the country, including Alabama, to propose “revenge” legislation for the sole purpose of punishing same-sex couples with administrative and bureaucratic barriers to full recognition.
Moore’s hypocrisy is beginning to spur questions about his motivations. At AL.com, writer Kyle Whitmire ponders whether Roy Moore is in fact a closeted, self-loathing homosexual — a scenario that is not unrealistic at all, given Alabama’s experience with former Attorney General Troy King, who was later revealed to have posed for a gay porn magazine during the 1990s.
We will be monitoring this story today and update you as soon as we have details to report.