UPDATE: U.S. Supreme Court won't stop same-sex marriages in Alabama
UPDATE: WASHINGTON, D.C. (AP) -- The U.S. Supreme Court says it won't stop same-sex marriages from beginning in Alabama on Monday.
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. Gay couples are lining up at courthouses seeking marriage licenses.
On Sunday, Chief Justice Roy Moore sent an order to state probate judges ordering them to refuse to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. But the chief clerk for Montgomery County Probate Judge Steven Reed said he plans to issue them.
BY MIRANDA LEITSINGER, NBC News
(NBC News) - Alabama's controversial chief justice, Roy Moore, issued an order to probate judges Sunday that they cannot perform same-sex marriages — one day before gay men and lesbians could begin marrying in the state under a federal ruling.
Moore, who has written several letters and orders on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage in the Southern state, said interpretations of a federal judge's decision to strike down Alabama's ban in January were "creating confusion and disarray in the administration of the law."
Gay couples were expected to still line up at courthouses across Alabama Monday seeking to get married. It was unknown how many of the state's probate judges would follow Moore.
"To ensure the orderly administration of justice," Moore wrote, "effective immediately, no probate judge of the state of Alabama nor any agent or employee of any Alabama probate judge shall issue or recognize a marriage license."
"A marriage contracted between individuals of the same sex is invalid in this state," he wrote.
Moore, known for installing a disputed Ten Commandments monument in 2001 at the judicial building that led to his eventual removal from office, released his order ahead of the debut of same-sex marriage in Alabama on Monday.
The state had asked the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals to put a federal judge's ruling striking down the ban on hold while the Supreme Court prepares to hear four similar same-sex marriage cases and settle the issue nationwide. But the court denied the request.
The federal judge in Mobile had put a self-imposed hold on her order until Monday, clearing the way for same-sex marriages to start. Thirty-six states and the District of Columbia allow gay men and lesbians to wed.
A civil rights group, the Southern Poverty Law Center, has filed a judicial ethics complaint against Moore, saying his comments urging judges to disregard the federal ruling were "encouraging lawlessness."