SCOTUS allows Alabama same-sex marriages, but does this translate to a final opinion?
The Supreme Court refused to stay same-sex marriages in Alabama today, making it the 37th state to allow the unions, and while activists around the country are interpreting the move as a sign for the larger hearing later this year, dissent exsists, even from within the highest court in the land.
The court on Monday morning denied the Alabama attorney general’s request to extend a hold on a judge’s ruling overturning the state’s ban on gay marriage. Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had asked the Supreme Court to keep the decision on hold because justices are expected to issue a nationwide ruling on gay marriage later this year.
U.S. District Judge Callie Granade in January ruled that the Alabama ban was unconstitutional. She put a hold on her order until Monday to give the state time to appeal.
“By refusing to halt marriage licenses in Alabama, the Supreme Court has telegraphed that there is virtually zero risk that they will issue an anti-equality ruling this summer,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow in a press release sent out shortly after today’s decision. “Instead, the odds of a ruling bringing marriage equality to all 50 states have increased significantly.”
Alabama’s case was the first to be heard since November when the 6th Circuit court became the first in the country to uphold same-sex marriage bans. Activists were unsure what this would mean when the high court releases their final decision in June.
But shortly after the HRC release signaling hope hit the masses, a dissenting opinion from conservative Justice Clarence Thomas came out urging equality advocates to hold their horses.
Thomas said today’s move by SCOTUS shouldn’t be seen as a final vote, and it actually “looks the other way as yet another federal district judge casts aside state laws.”
Thomas added he was concerned allowing the marriages was “not the proper way to discharge our Article III responsibilities. And, it is indecorous for this court to pretend that it is.”
He was referring to Article III of the Constitution which defines the roles of the federal courts.
Fellow conservative Justice Scalia joined Thomas in the dissenting opinion.
Concern over higher courts power to strike same-sex marriage laws, often approved by voter referendum, have been a heel for many who champion state’s rights and oppose higher court intervention.
No matter what happens today in Alabama, the highest court in the land is set to hear the oral arguments in the coming months with a decision expected by mid summer.
LGBTQ Nation Staff contributed to this report.
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