Utah is generally considered to be one of the most conservative states in the country. When same-sex marriage became legal there as the result of a federal court ruling, some observers feared for the worst and braced for resistance.
It didn't happen. State officials behaved responsibly. Although they made it clear that they don't support marriage equality, these officials directed the people who work for them to follow the court ruling and not engage in futile forms of resistance. Same-sex couples began getting married in Utah, and all is well.
Contrast that happy experience with Alabama. Same-sex marriage became legal there Feb. 9, also as the result of a federal court ruling. A federal appeals court and the U.S. Supreme Court later declined to stay that ruling.
Some officials in Alabama weren't happy about that, but they had exhausted their legal options. They had two choices: accept that same-sex couples could legally marry in Alabama and move on or engage in foolish acts of defiance.
Naturally, they chose defiance.
Egged on by Alabama Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, some probate judges, county-level officials who issue marriage licenses, announced that they would not grant licenses to same-sex couples. At first widespread, the defiance began to weaken after U.S. District Judge Callie V. Granade ordered a probate judge in Mobile County to begin issuing licenses to same-sex couples. The move was widely interpreted as a sign to other probate judges to fall in line.