WASHINGTON: Alabama became the 37th US state to allow gay marriages Monday after the US Supreme Court refused to take up an appeal to block them.
The southern state had asked the top court to halt the unions until it rules on same-sex marriages nationwide later this year.
But the Supreme Court declined to hear the state’s case, and probate judges began issuing marriage licenses and officiating weddings.
Two of the nine Supreme Court justices dissented from the majority’s decision.
“I regret the Supreme Court’s decision not to stay the federal district court’s ruling until the high court finally settles the issue this summer,” said Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange, who had filed the state’s motion, said in a statement.
“In the absence of a stay, there will likely be more confusion in the coming months leading up to the Supreme Court’s anticipated ruling on the legality of same-sex marriage.”
Strange’s office does not issue marriage licenses, perform marriage ceremonies or issue adoption certificates, an authority that rests with probate judges, who can then decide whether to do so or not for gay couples.
Gay rights cases will be argued in April before the Supreme Court, which is due to issue a historic ruling in late June.
Alabama had banned gay marriages. But a federal court struck down the ban, saying it violated the 14th Amendment of the US Constitution that guarantees equal rights and protections.
Two conservative justices of the high court, Clarence Thomas and Antonin Scalia, said Alabama should have been able to have its case heard along with those of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee in April.
“Today’s decision represents yet another example of this court’s increasingly cavalier attitude toward the states,” they wrote in their dissenting opinion.
“Over the past few months, the court has repeatedly denied stays of lower court judgments enjoining the enforcement of state laws on questionable constitutional grounds.”