Robert Povilat, left, and Milton Persinger apply for their marriage license at Mobile County Probate Office after windows opened for the first time in four days in Mobile, Ala., on Feb. 12, 2015.
Photo by Sharon Steinmann/Mobile Press-Register/AP

Alabama judge can’t join gay marriage case

The legal drama over same-sex marriage in Alabama took another turn late Friday, when a federal judge declined an invitation from a state official who wanted to further draw the judge into a separate court battle going on in the state supreme court.

It’s the latest development in efforts to pit the state against the federal government over the marriage issue in Alabama.

Here’s a refresher and summary of where things stand:

NOW With Alex Wagner, 2/12/15, 4:24 PM ET

Alabama judge clears way for same-sex marriages

NBC’s Pete Williams reports that a federal judge in Alabama has ordered a state official to begin granting marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
On Jan. 23, a federal judge in Mobile declared the state’s ban on same-sex marriage unconstitutional. But she put the effect of her ruling on hold for two weeks to give the state time to appeal. The state’s appeal efforts failed.

On Feb. 9, some counties began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, but most declined to do so. Those that refused cited an order from the chief justice of the state supreme court, who said they must obey the Alabama constitution, which bans same-sex marriage.

On Feb. 12, the federal judge directly ordered a county official to issue licenses to a gay couple, and other counties began to fall in line.

On a separate track, two private organizations went to the state supreme court on Feb. 11 and asked it to issue an order commanding county officials “not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples and not to recognize any marriage licenses issued to same-sex couples.” The state court has yet to act.

On Feb. 15, a county official, Probate Judge Alan King, asked the federal judge to let him intervene as a party in the federal case so that he can seek some relief from what he fears will be a state supreme court ruling at odds with the federal court decision that struck down the marriage ban.

On Feb. 17, lawyers for gay couples went back to the federal judge and asked her to order Alabama’s attorney general, Luther Strange, to ask the state supreme to dismiss the case pending there. She has yet to rule on that motion.

Friday, the federal judge refused to let King intervene in the federal case.

Meanwhile, many more counties are now issuing marriage licenses.

NOW With Alex Wagner, 2/12/15, 3:59 PM ET

In fight for marriage equality, all eyes on Alabama

Will the tide of marriage equality sweep over Alabama? Alex Wagner looks at the status of gay marriage in the South with The Advocate’s Matthew Breen and the Human Rights Campaign’s Chad Griffin.

Alabama and Marriage Equality

Alabama judge can't join gay marriage case