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The U.S. Supreme Court let a deadline pass yesterday. The justices decided not to block same-sex marriages in the state of Alabama. Some saw this move as a strong signal that the High Court is on the verge of legalizing gay marriage nationwide. In a moment, we'll go to Alabama where some same-sex marriages began taking place, that despite an 11th-hour show of defiance by the state's chief justice. We begin our coverage with NPR's Nina Totenberg.
NINA TOTENBERG, BYLINE: The sensational legal twists and turns in Alabama began in January when federal Judge Callie Granade, a George W. Bush appointee to the federal bench, struck down Alabama's ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional. She ordered probate judges in Alabama to begin issuing marriage licenses but stayed her order until Feb. 9 to allow the state time for an appeal. However, on Monday, deadline day, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to step in and stop same-sex marriages from proceeding in Alabama. The action provoked widespread speculation among court observers that the outcome of the gay marriage dispute, now pending in the U.S. Supreme Court, is a done deal in favor of allowing such unions in every state.
It wasn't just court watchers making that observation. Dissenting from the court's refusal to temporarily block same-sex marriages were Justices Antonin Scalia and Clarence Thomas, who said that the refusal to intervene, quote, "would be seen as a signal" of how the court ultimately intends to decide the gay marriage issue later this term. The decision upholding the order to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples in Alabama came just hours after the state's chief justice, Roy Moore, knowing that the nation's highest court was about to rule on the state request, issued his own decree ordering state probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Chief Justice Moore is no stranger to the battle to preserve states' rights, even in the face of federal court orders to the contrary. In 2003, a state judicial panel unseated him from the state court after he defied a federal court order to remove a refrigerator-sized Ten Commandments monument that Moore himself had ordered installed in the rotunda of the Alabama Judicial Building to, quote, "acknowledge the sovereignty of God." He rose again in 2013 to be elected chief justice once more. Nina Totenberg, NPR News, Washington.
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