Same-sex couple exchange wedding band, (File photo).
Same-sex couple exchange wedding band, (File photo).

Alabama's top justice has ordered the state's probate judges not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, despite the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling last year legalizing gay marriage.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore cited conflicting court rulings as his reason for issuing the order.

"Until further decision by the Alabama Supreme Court … Alabama probate judges have a ministerial duty not to issue any marriage license contrary to the Alabama Sanctity of Marriage Amendment or the Alabama Marriage Protection Act," Moore wrote in an administrative order Wednesday.

In Mobile County, the probate court said it would stop issuing marriage licenses to all couples.

"In order to comply with the administrative order of Alabama Chief Justice Roy S. Moore … the court is not issuing marriage licenses to any applicants until further notice," it said in a message posted to its website. "This action is necessary to ensure full compliance with all court rulings that apply to the court and to Mobile County."

'Sad and pathetic'

Elsewhere in the state, reaction has been mixed.

In Montgomery, Probate Judge Steven Reed said Moore has "soiled the court" with his decision.

"Judge Moore's latest charade is just sad and pathetic," Reed wrote on Twitter. "My office will ignore him and this."

Democratic presidential candidate and former secretary of state Hillary Clinton said in a statement that "marriage equality is now the law of the land — including in Alabama."

"There are still judges who are determined to stand in the way of people's rights," Clinton wrote. "We need to ensure that marriage equality is guaranteed and enforced nationwide."

Moore, a conservative Republican, has previously attempted to block same-sex marriage in the state, but backed down after legal challenges. In 2003, he was removed from office after refusing a court order to remove a Ten Commandments monument from the state judicial building.