MONTGOMERY, Ala., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The chief justice of the Alabama Supreme Court ordered the state on Wednesday to stop issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
Chief Justice Roy Moore ruled that Alabama's Marriage Protection Act is "in full force and effect," thus barring gay marriage. Moore's ruling creates the first real impediment to the U.S. Supreme Court's June ruling that struck down laws similar to Alabama's same-sex marriage ban.
The states of Kentucky, Michigan, Ohio and Tennessee had similar laws.
Moore wrote that Alabama is stuck between the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling and an earlier decision by the state supreme court, and until Alabama's Supreme Court can sort out what to do, the state's decision stands.
Legal experts say Moore does not have the legal authority to set aside the actions of the higher court. But it wouldn't be his first attempt to stop same-sex marriage in the state. He first attempted to use an administrative order, then just before the federal ruling went into effect, he gave another administrative order to probate judges. A majority of judges ignored Moore instead.
Moore, one of the most religiously conservative judges in the country, has stirred other conflicts. A state judicial panel removed him from the chief justice position in 2003 for his defiance of a federal court order to remove the granite Ten Commandments monument from the Alabama Judicial Building's lobby.
Alabama voters put him back in the job in 2012.
"Government officials are free to disagree with the law, but not to disobey it," said U.S. attorneys Joyce White Vance and Kenyen R. Brown in a joint statement from their offices in Birmingham and Mobile. "This issue has been decided by the highest court in the land, and Alabama must follow that law."