The Alabama Senate passed a bill last week that would completely eliminate marriage licenses in the state. People would instead go to a probate judge to simply get their marriages recorded by a state official.
Republican state Sen. Greg Albritton, the author of the bill, told WBRC-TV that the state needed to get used to the fact that gay marriage is now legal and adjust accordingly. “The recording is what establishes the marriage. OK? Not the ceremony. Not the form of the license,” he said.
Albritton also said it would ease the burden on probate judges who may feel conflicted having to sign a same-sex marriage license, which would keep the state out of any cumbersome legal battles.
“It keeps the state from making the decision of who can and cannot get married,” he said. “It prevents the state from that gate-keeper position.”
State Sen. Gerald Allen (R) agreed with the notion that it would make it easier for probate judges who feel morally conflicted.
“Just like probate judges and others that got some personal opinions about things. It takes them out of the loop so to speak,” Allen said.
Several counties in Alabama have already stopped issuing marriage licenses. According to AL.com, as of last October, eight counties in the state have refused to issue any marriage licenses since the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling declaring same-sex marriage a constitutional right.
Instead of obtaining a marriage license, the bill would require a couple to submit notarized affidavits certifying that they are of legal age, not already married and not related by blood or adoption. The document would be signed by both parties, and the probate court would simply record the marriage instead of signing off on the official document.
Albritton’s bill has passed through the Senate three times before, but all three times it has failed to clear the state House. The bill has been read by the House of Representatives and referred to the House Judiciary Committee.