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Why Alabama Could Get Rid of Marriage Licenses

01-24-2018
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Alabama legislators are pushing forward a bill to completely eliminate the need for marriage licenses.
 
Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton, the bill's sponsor, told Fox News the bill is a direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court's 2015 decision to legalize gay marriage (Obergefell v. Hodges).

"No one particularly likes changing our law, I'll tell you that," he said. "However, under the circumstances, it's the best thing we can do."

The bill would ultimately allow Alabama judges to avoid the gay marriage debate. 

Albritton introduced the measure several times after the Supreme Court ruled in the Obergefell v. Hodges case in 2015. 

After the ruling, then-Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told probate judges to use their power to deny same-sex couples marriage certificates, which led to his suspension. 

"We would not have changed this had it not been for Obergefell," Albritton said. "But without the change, the law remains in conflict with Obergefell. So we got to make some changes to the law to come into compliance."

The bill does not stop the state from recognizing marriages, but judges would not be required to issue a license.

If passed, couples would not have to apply for a marriage license. Instead, they would submit a form to the probate judge swearing that they are of legal age, are entering the marriage willingly, are not already married, and are not related. The probate judge would then record the form as the official marriage document, Alabama.com reports. 

The bill was approved by the Alabama Senate last week. It now heads to the House and could be up for a vote by next week.
 

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