For those of you who have been following the status of same-sex marriage in Alabama, you will recall that there has been much controversy and conflict among our federal and state judges, as well as elected officials. The issue is presumably settled now. Following the ruling on Friday, Governor Robert Bentley acknowledged that he would follow it and said “I have to uphold not only the constitution of Alabama, but I swore to uphold the constitution of the United States and we will uphold the law of the United States. I will uphold the law of the nation and this is now the law.”

However, controversy remains in the Alabama court system. On January 23, 2015, federal District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade declared same-sex marriage bans in Alabama to be unconstitutional and void. In February Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore entered an administrative order stating that the federal district court ruling was not binding on Alabama probate judges and that Alabama probate judges were prohibited from issuing or recognizing a marriage license that violated the Amendment or Act. Thereafter, confusion amongst probate judges ensued, with some issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some judges issuing licenses to opposite-sex couples, and some probate judges halting the issuance of marriage licenses altogether. On March 3, 2015, the Alabama Supreme Court (Judge Moore recused himself) entered an Order requiring probate judges to discontinue the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The Court said it had the same authority to interpret the U.S. Constitution as Judge Granade, and held that Alabama’s same-sex marriage bans did not violate couples' Fourteenth Amendment equal protection and due process rights. Following this decision, several civil rights groups filed a motion asking Judge Granade to order probate judges  to   comply   with   her   order   and,   within days, Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange asked a federal court to delay any decisions on same-sex marriage in the state until the anticipated U.S. Supreme Court ruling on the matter. On May 21, 2015, Judge Granade issued an order mandating Alabama’s probate judges issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but stayed the effect of her order until the Supreme Court ruling.

Today, the Alabama Supreme Court issued an Order stating that, “[p]ursuant to Rule 44, Sup. Ct. R., the parties in Obergefell v. Hodges, have a period of 25 days to file a petition for rehearing in that case. The parties in the present case {Ex parte State of Alabama ex rel. Alabama Policy Institute, Alabama Citizens Action Program, and John E. Enslen, in his official capacity as Judge of Probate for Elmore County} are invited to submit any motions or briefs addressing the effect of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell on this Court’s existing orders in this case no later than 5:00 p.m. on Monday, July 6.”

Despite much debate in the news today, the Alabama Supreme Court’s ruling does not require Alabama Probate Judges to halt issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples. This Order only recognizes the right of the parties to the Obergefell case to file a petition for rehearing on the merits of that decision within 25 days after entry of the decision. In light of this rule, the Alabama Supreme Court’s order merely invites probate judges and interested parties to the litigation that is pending before it to submit motions by July 6 on how the Obergefell decision impacts the Alabama Supreme Court’s March Order halting the issuance of marriage licenses.