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"Linda Smith, a U.S. citizen, and “John Doe,” an undocumented
immigrant, had been a couple for more than nine years. When they decided
to marry, they could not obtain a marriage license from the Montgomery
County Probate Office in Alabama because it denied licenses to couples
unable to prove both partners have legal immigration status. The policy
was not required by any federal or state law.
The SPLC filed a
lawsuit challenging the policy and seeking class action status to
represent couples across the state who would be denied marriage
licenses. Fifty-four of Alabama’s 67 counties enforced such a policy.
lawsuit charged that the Montgomery County Probate Office’s marriage
license policy, and similar policies in other counties, violates the
U.S. Constitution’s due process and equal protection clauses. The
Constitution guarantees the right to marry to all people, regardless of
The lawsuit also cited a 2004 opinion from
the Alabama Attorney General’s Office that states “a marriage license
can be issued to an applicant who is not a United States citizen.” A
2008 opinion from the office concluded that a “social security number is
not a required element for a person to receive a marriage license.”" - SPLC, Oct. 19, 2011.