Milton Persinger, left, and Robert Povilat wait for a marriage license at the Mobile County Probate office, Feb. 10, 2015, in Mobile, Ala.
Photo by Sharon Steinmann/AP

Marriage licenses live to see another day in Alabama

A couple of months ago, state lawmakers in Alabama were confronted with a provocative new idea. The state, which has struggled of late when confronted with the possibility of marriage equality, had an opportunity to pass a bill that would scrap state-sanctioned marriage licenses altogether – for literally everyone.
The bill, championed by Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton, would end the current requirement that couples in Alabama obtain marriage licenses from probate judges. Instead, “marriages would be a legal contract, witnessed by a clergy member, attorney or notary public, and filed with the state through the probate office.”
Albritton told the Decatur Daily in April, “My goal is to remove the state out of the lives of people.”
Oddly enough, this bill passed the state Senate with ease. Would the state House actually move this bill closer to becoming law? Evidently, no. reported late yesterday:
Legislation that would take the state of Alabama out of the business of issuing marriage licenses died in the House of Representatives committee today. […]
The legislation passed in the Senate, but it won’t go before the House for consideration. It failed 8-3 in the House Judiciary Committee.
So, is the Alabama debate over for now? Yes, but it may be a temporary reprieve.
Albritton, lobbying in support of his bill, told his colleagues it’s intended to serve as a fix in the event the Supreme Court rules in favor of marriage equality later this month. The House committee decided yesterday that, as put it, lawmakers “can’t pass a bill to try to preempt something that hasn’t happened yet.”
In other words, if the court majority rules in favor of equal-marriage rights, Alabama may yet revisit the issue of scrapping marriage licenses.