(Reuters) - The Alabama Supreme Court ordered probate judges in the state on Tuesday to stop issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples in a ruling that is in apparent defiance of the U.S. Supreme Court.
The ruling comes weeks after a federal judge overturned the socially conservative state's ban on gay marriage in a decision that the U.S. Supreme Court declined to put on hold.
The U.S. Supreme Court agreed this year to take up the issue of whether states can ban gay marriage. Its expected ruling in June likely will provide clarity on the issue in Alabama, as well as the 13 states where gay marriage remains illegal.
(Reporting by Jonathan Kaminsky in New Orleans; Editing by Cynthia Johnston and Bill Trott)