A federal judge in Mobile, holding fast to her view that Alabama’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional, refused on Monday to put her ruling to that effect on hold. As of now, District Judge Callie V. S. Granade ruled, a state judge in Mobile is not caught between conflicting rulings between the federal and state courts.
The judge was able to draw that conclusion by interpreting an Alabama Supreme Court decision forbidding all probate judges in the state from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples as making an exception for the probate judge in Mobile, Don Davis. It remains to be seen whether Davis will continue to have that exception, especially if Judge Granade does — as she has been asked to do — expand her ruling in favor of same-sex marriage statewide.
The federal judge acknowledged that confusion has spread in the state since the Alabama Supreme Court, in a ruling directly contradictory to her decision, upheld the constitutionality of the state’s ban. But she left the impression that, for the time being at least, Judge Davis can continue to obey her ruling without violating the state supreme court’s mandate.
Davis had asked her to put the case before her on hold, and to free him from other challenges brought by same-sex couples, because of the fact — as he claimed — that he could not obey both Judge Granade and the state Supreme Court. In a way, the federal judge appeared to be making an effort to avert a direct conflict between the two tribunals.
At the same time, however, she reinforced her decision that the state ban is invalid. She noted that her ruling “agrees with the overwhelming consensus of courts across the country that have addressed the constitutionality of similar state laws since the Supreme Court’s  ruling in United States v. Windsor.”
Judge Davis, she added pointedly, “has offered no reason why this court should now conclude that judgment in this case is likely to be in favor of Judge Davis.”