Alabama began issuing marriage licences promptly after the decision, becoming the 37th state where gays can legally wed. Gay marriage is now banned in only 13 of the 50 US states, following a flurry of legal victories for same-sex marriage advocates in recent years.
The Alabama decision comes as the US Supreme Court heads toward a potentially historic, nationwide ruling on the divisive social issue. Last month, the court announced it would hear arguments on whether gay couples have a right to marry everywhere in America. A decision is expected by late June.
Last month a federal judge ruled that the Alabama ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional, but she put a hold on the order until yesterday to give the state time to appeal.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange had asked the Supreme Court to extend the hold because the court is expected to issue its nationwide ruling in a few months’ time, but the court refused.
Shortly after the Supreme Court’s decision, Alabama probate judge Alan King issued licences to several couples.
One of the licences went to Dee and Laura Bush, who have been together for seven years.
Dee said: “It is great that we were able to be part of history.”
After receiving their licence, the couple walked outside to a park where a minister was performing wedding ceremonies to cheers from crowds.
The state’s Chief Justice, Roy Moore, had made an 11th-hour attempt to block the weddings, ordering probate judges to refuse to issue licences. But King issued the papers anyway, saying he was abiding by last month’s federal court order.
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