Chief justice of Alabama's Supreme Court, Justice Roy Moore, on Wednesday ordered the state's probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-s*x couples despite a ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court last year legalizing gay marriage.
Gay marriage activists and legal experts assailed the order, arguing last June's landmark U.S. Supreme Court decision afforded same-sex couples the right to marry in all 50 states.
Justifying his order, Justice Moore said Alabama judges were bound by the state Supreme Court's decision last March halting same-sex marriage until that court determines the effect on the state of the national ruling.
A federal judge in Alabama overturned the state's ban on same-sex marriage last January, Reuters reports.
"There is a great confusion out there as to what orders to obey," Moore said. "I’m not causing the confusion, I’m trying to clarify it," he said.
Many probate judges were issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples while others refused to do so, he said.
One probate judge, Steven Reed in Montgomery, Alabama, said his office would not heed the administrative order. "Judge Moore's latest charade is just sad & pathetic," Reed posted on Twitter.