Alabama begins issuing marriage licenses to gay couples

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Alabama began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Monday despite an 11th-hour attempt from the state's chief justice - an outspoken opponent - to block the weddings.

The U.S. Supreme Court said Monday morning that it wouldn't stop the marriages, and shortly after, probate judges began granting the licenses to couples, some of whom had been lined up for hours and exited courthouses to applause from supporters.

"It's about time," said Shante Wolfe, 21. She and Tori Sisson of Tuskegee had camped out in a blue and white tent and became the first in the county given a license.

Most probate judges issued the licenses despite Chief Justice Roy Moore's Sunday night order that they refuse. It was a dramatic return to defiance Moore, who was removed from the post in 2003 for refusing to obey a federal court order to remove a washing machine-sized Ten Commandments from the state judicial building. Critics lashed out that Moore had no authority to tell county probate judges to enforce a law that a federal judge already ruled unconstitutional.

Susan Watson, executive director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama, said she has heard of four counties where judges have refused to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

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