Alabama’s state government is close to reaching a groundbreaking decision on marital status. The measure, if passed, would eliminate the need for marriage licences to legally finalize a marriage.
The bill would eliminate the need for probate judges to approve or “certify” a marriage licence and instead would allow all couples in Alabama to achieve marital status by signing a form. The bill also eliminates the requirement for a formal ceremony in order for the marriage to be valid.
The current Alabama law says that probate judges “may” certify the licence but, they are not required to. The bill, which was introduces by Sen. Greg Albritton (R), has a number of purposes. The main goal of the bill is to remove probate judges from the process of achieving marital status. Probate judges throughout the southern states, including Alabama, have been using their power to deny marital licences to prevent gay and lesbian couples from achieving marriage. This change to the law would protect the religious freedom of probate judges while removing legal roadblocks in front of gay and lesbian couples looking to get married. The law would also further separate the legal institution of marriage from religion by no longer requiring a ceremony for the marriage to be legally binding.
Despite receiving some opposition over its potential to complicate the legal structures designed for marriage licences, the provision is receiving widespread support from many across the state. Although a similar provision has came up in Oklahoma, if passed, this legislation would be the first of its kind in the nation. The provision passed the Alabama State Senate 19-1 and is expected to come before the Alabama State House in the coming days.