The United States Supreme Court says it will not stop same-sex marriages from taking place in the southern state of Alabama.
The court on Monday denied a request by Alabama's attorney general to continue a hold on a judge's ruling overturning the state's ban on gay marriage.
The decision effectively makes Alabama the 37th state where gays can legally marry.
Chief Justice Roy Moore had argued that Alabama was not required to follow the decisions of a federal court that last month declared the state's ban on same-sex marriage to be unconstitutional.
Moore said that any judge who issued a same-sex marriage license could face legal action from the state's governor.
U.S. District Judge Callie Granade struck down Alabama's same-sex marriage ban in a ruling last month, but put her order on hold until Monday to let the state prepare for the change.
The Alabama case that began the latest legal battle involved two women who were legally married in the Western state of California.
One of the women wanted to legally adopt the other's biological son under an Alabama rule that allows the adoption of a spouse's child, but was denied because the state did not recognize their marriage.
Chief Justice Moore was involved in another constitutional battle in 2002, after he had a two-and-a-half-ton granite monument engraved with the Ten Commandments installed in the building that houses the Alabama Supreme Court.
A federal court ruled the monument had to be removed after complaints that it violated a clause in the U.S. Constitution forbidding the establishment of religion.
But Moore, whose position gave him authority over decorations in the courthouse, refused, and was removed from his elected office. He began a new term as chief justice in 2013 after winning a new election.