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Anger in Alabama as judge allows gay marriages

Published:Saturday | January 24, 2015 | 1:02 PM

MONTGOMERY, Alabama (AP):

The Alabama attorney general is asking a federal judge to stay a ruling that overturned Alabama's ban on gay marriage, as advocates cheer what once seemed an improbable victory in the deeply conservative state.

Attorney General Luther Strange's office asked a federal judge last Friday to put the ruling on hold since the US Supreme Court plans to take up the issue of gay marriage this term, "resolving the issues on a nationwide basis."

A judge last Friday said Alabama's ban was unconstitutional, ruling in favour of two Mobile women who sued to challenge Alabama's refusal to recognise their 2008 marriage performed in California.

The ruling is the latest in a string of wins in the South for advocates of gay marriage rights after judges struck down bans in the Carolinas, Florida, Mississippi and Virginia. The US Supreme Court announced this month that it will take up the issue of whether gay couples have a fundamental right to marry and if states can ban such unions.

The judge's decision reverberated through the Deep South state where 81 per cent of state voters in 2006 approved inserting a ban on gay marriage into the Alabama Constitution.

"It is outrageous when a single unelected and unaccountable federal judge can overturn the will of millions of Alabamians who stand in firm support of the Sanctity of Marriage Act," Alabama House Speaker Mike Hubbard said.