Despite a U.S. Supreme Court landmark ruling last June that legalized gay marriage, Chief Justice Roy Moore of the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state's probate judges Wednesday not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, based on legal analysis about ministerial duties still being debated in Alabama.
Gay marriage activists and legal experts are attacking the order, arguing same-sex couples have the right to marry in all 50 states. Many Christians are voicing support of Moore's stance, indicating they are relieved he is "upholding God's law."
Moore issued the four-page administrative order, noting the Supreme Court of Alabama had, in March of 2015, upheld the state's ban on same-sex marriage. Three months later, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled bans on same-sex marriage unconstitutional, in Obergefell v. Hodges.
Kimberly Luna posted on social media: "It's unfortunate so many United States citizens have no idea of how the constitution and laws in this country are supposed to work. The supreme court does not have the legal right to make any laws in this country. They are only there to defend the laws already in place.
"These laws regarding marriage are state issues. Period. I applaud you. God Bless You Judge Moore!"
"Confusion and uncertainty exist among the probate judges of this State as to the effect of Obergefell on the 'existing orders,' " Moore wrote, referencing the March 2015 instructions that indicate bans on same-sex marriage should be enforced.
He suggests the Supreme Court decision invalidates the marriage bans in Michigan, Kentucky, Ohio and Tennessee - the specific laws named in Obergefell - but not necessarily in Alabama, reports NPR.
"I am not at liberty to provide any guidance to Alabama probate judges on the effect of Obergefell on the existing orders of the Alabama Supreme Court. That issue remains before the entire [Alabama Supreme] Court which continues to deliberate on the matter," Moore explained in the order.
Moore wrote that since the U.S. Supreme Court ruling, many Alabama probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, while others are issuing licenses only to opposite-sex couples or not issuing licenses at all.
The judge argued while the "legal analysis is yet to be determined," the "confusion" over the law has an adverse effect on the administration of justice in Alabama.
Based on that reasoning, he ordered that probate judges have "a ministerial duty" not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples - at least until the Alabama Supreme Court has ruled on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court's decision.
"Thank you Justice Roy Moore for having the courage to stand up for God's law," posted Jackie Britton Bryant on Moore's Facebook page. "This is exactly what Governor Mike Huckabee was doing in Kentucky with Kim Davis."
"About time we the Christians start standing up on the Values that this Great Country was founded on!!!! All of my family will walk and stand with you !!! In fact it would be an Honor to do so!!!" posted Jim Jackson.
Some arguments now are brewing over the difference between same-sex marriages versus same-sex weddings.
Moore is a Christian and Republican who graduated from West Point and is a Vietnam veteran. He and his family are members of First Baptist Church in Gallant, Ala. He became known 20 years ago, as the "Ten Commandments" judge, because he hung a plaque with religious edicts in his courtroom. As chief justice, he later put a monument to the commandments in the state judicial building, a step that got him removed from office in 2003 when he defied a federal order to take down the monument.
He was re-elected as Alabama chief justice in 2012.
"Be the change in the world you want to see, never stop fighting, never give in! Keep it up Judge, the truth is on your side!" encouraged Jeremy Paul Cox on Facebook.