The Alabama Senate has passed a bill that would abolish marriage licenses in the state in an attempt to avoid issuing such licenses to same-sex couples.
SB 143 passed by a margin of 23-3 on March 15 and was sent to the Alabama House of Representatives for debate, according to Associated Press. The bill, which is sponsored by Republican Sen. Greg Albritton of Alabama, would require couples who want to get married in the state to submit affidavits, forms and data rather than receive a license from a clerk.
Albritton stated that he introduced the bill in order to end recent controversy over religious freedom cases such as those of Kentucky clerk Kim Davis, who refused to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples after the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage in 2015.
"A lot of controversy over who should and who could [get married],” Albritton told Christian Today. “The religious liberty comes to play there. This bill removes that simply because it's not statutory to have a ceremony.”
The bill received praise from conservative groups such as the Foundation for Moral Law, although it was still criticized for allowing same-sex marriage. The foundation’s senior counsel Col. John Eidsmoe told Life Site News that he sees “no reason the State needs to be in the business of issuing marriage licenses.”
“A license is a grant of permission, and we do not need the State's 'permission' to exercise a God-given right such as the right to marry," Eidsmoe said, according to Christian Today.
Critics of the bill, such as Democratic State Rep. Patricia Todd -- Alabama's only openly gay legislator -- say that it is unnecessary and that state probate judges should just “do their job” and issue marriage licenses. Others claim that the bill will negatively impact domestic violence programs in Alabama, pointing to the fact that revenue from marriage licenses goes to funding these programs each year, according to Local 15 TV.
Tonie Ann Torrans, executive director of Alabama domestic violence shelter Penelope House, said that this funding totaled $90,000 per year. However, Albritton has promised to introduce a section of the bill ensuring that the funding will continue when it goes through the House.