- Associated Press - Thursday, February 12, 2015

A federal judge in Alabama has ordered a Mobile County probate judge to start issuing gay marriage licenses.

U.S. District Judge Callie V. Granade issued her ruling after a brief hearing Thursday.

About an hour later, Mobile County opened up its marriage license office and started granting the documents to gay couples, according to David Kennedy, an attorney for one of the couples who wed.

Earlier in the week, Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis had ceased issuing marriage licenses to anyone, due to conflicting state and federal orders on gay marriage.

Michael Druhan, an attorney for Judge Davis, had said the county decided to shut down its marriage-license operations rather than face a legal minefield.

“If you stand still you might get shot. If you move you might blow up,” Mr. Druhan said outside court, according to the Montgomery (Ala.) Advertiser and Associated Press.

Numerous same-sex couples have been at the court all week seeking marriage licenses.

Judge Granade’s January ruling legalizing gay marriage in Alabama went into effect Monday when the U.S. Supreme Court refused, 7-2, to keep her stay in place.

The day before, Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy S. Moore issued an lengthy directive to the 67 county probate judges under his jurisdiction, telling them to uphold Alabama’s man-woman marriage law.

On Monday, only 10 judges followed Judge Granade’s order while most judges, including Judge Davis, refused, prompting the lawsuit by four gay couples.

Messages seeking comment from Chief Justice Moore’s office Thursday afternoon were not immediately returned, the Montgomery Advertiser said.

As of Thursday, around 23 courts were issuing licenses. Hundreds of gay couples have wed in Alabama this week, making the deeply religious and conservative state the 37th to allow same-sex marriages.

Judge Granade did not directly address Chief Justice Moore’s order in her eight-page decision. However, she said her order bound Judge Davis “and all his officers, agents, servants and employees, and others in active concert or participation with any of them, who would seek to enforce the marriage laws of Alabama which prohibit or fail to recognize same-sex marriage.”

James Strawser and John Humphrey had said they hoped they were on track to “get our victory” and marry by the weekend, according to the Montgomery Advertiser.

The legal battles may continue: Two groups opposed to same-sex marriage asked the Alabama Supreme Court Wednesday to stop probate judges in the state from issuing same-sex marriage licenses, saying the court should “remove the confusion and disarray” from the proceedings.

Attorney Eric Johnston, representing the Alabama Policy Institute and the Alabama Citizens Action Program, said prior to Thursday’s ruling that they would continue with the action regardless of Judge Granade’s ruling, according to the Montgomery Advertiser and Associated Press.

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