Bill to remove marriage licenses passes Alabama Senate

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The Alabama Senate approved a bill on Wednesday to remove marriage licenses and begin a new process under which probate judges would accept affidavits from couples as an official record of marriage.

Alabama Senators voted 19-1 for the bill, which will now move to the House of Representatives.

Under the legislation, the requirement of a ceremony to honor the marriage would be erased. The cost would be the same as the current cost of marriage licenses in the state.

The bill’s sponsor, Atmore-Republican Sen. Greg Albritton said the passing of this bill would remove the state from any role in marriage ceremonies, which he believes will properly separate churches and the state.

Similar bills have been proposed in the Alabama legislature since the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage in 2015. Since then, a number of Alabama probate judges have refused to issue marriage licenses to anyone due to their personal religious objections to gay marriage.

Alabama probate judges are not required by the current law to issue marriage license and many judges have used the language in the current law to opt themselves out of issuing the licenses.

The bill would take away any judgement by probate judges, making the only requirement for a marriage to be official being to submit the correct documents to the probate judge.

The documents required would include an affidavit stating that the spouses are 18 years of age or older, or are at least 16 with parental consent, that they are not currently married, and not related by blood or adoption.

Albritton’s bill states that the shift would not alter any other aspects of marriage in Alabama, including: divorce, child custody and child support.

Sen. Phil Williams, who was the sole ‘no’ vote, stated he voted in that manner because he “feared the change would water down the meaning of marriage”.

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