No same-sex marriages here
Published 5:02 pm Tuesday, February 10, 2015
Probate Judge Doug Agerton said Monday that he was prepared to issue same sex marriage licenses, but following instructions from Chief Justice Roy Moore, couples must now apply for a license and “wait for things to get cleared up” before getting their official paperwork.
Agerton also announced a new marriage license policy “to be fair to everyone” in which he will only issue licenses to Escambia County residents.
In January, U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. “Ginny” Granade struck down Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban, calling it unconstitutional. She later issued a stay to give attorneys two weeks to appeal their case to a higher court.
But the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of appeals did not extend the stay, and it expired Sunday.
“And I was prepared to issue a same-sex marriage license Monday morning, but at 8:18 Sunday night, I got told otherwise,” Agerton said.
Agerton spoke of Chief Justice Roy Moore’s instructions to ignore the federal order.
“I answer to Chief Justice Roy Moore because he’s over the judicial system,” Agerton said. “This is my plan. Beginning (Monday), this office is going to take applications for same sex marriage licenses. We’ll get their contact number, and when we get clarification, we’ll contact them and go from there.”
To promote fairness, Agerton said his office will no longer perform any marriage ceremonies.
“I’m about trying to do what’s best for this county,” he said. “Hopefully someone in the state will give us some clarity, and we’ll do our best to satisfy the people.”
The majority of license applicants come from Florida, where there is a three-day waiting period for a license.
“Of the 50 to 70 ceremonies we did in a month, 77 percent of those are from Florida,” Agerton said. “That means that 80 percent of the people married in this office are from outside the county.
“My decision to only sell a license to a county resident is of a benefit to our county,” he said. “Of the $40 it costs for a license, this office makes around $10. It takes an average of 20 minutes to do the office work for the license. So it will save us money and allow the staff to be more productive on things that benefit Escambia County residents.”