I've long thought that state governments should not be in the business of taxing and sanctioning marriage, which is why I thought it pretty forward when SB377 was introduced, eliminating state licensure of marital unions and making it a legal contract instead.
Then the fine print exposed the real purpose. The language states that "the only requirement to be married in this state shall be for parties who are [[otherwise legally authorized to be married]] to enter into a contract of marriage as provided herein."
Ah, so when the Supreme Court rules later this month that states cannot discriminate when issuing marriage licenses, Alabama will be exempt because it won't be issuing licenses any more, only contracts, and that phrase above in brackets becomes more meaningful..."otherwise legally authorized to be married."
The Alabama state constitution, the most archaic and silly state document in the entire nation, defines marriage as between two people of different genders.
Alabama is pre-preemptively exempting itself from having to issue marriage "contracts" to gay people. It's a semantic difference at most and will be struck down the first time it's challenged, but that'll take some time, time that the state legislators can use to brag to the uneducated rubes who voted for them because they promised to fight gay marriage.
Why we are postponing the inevitable is beyond my understanding except that we have a backward, 19th-Century legislature staffed with hypocritical red-necks with nicknames in quotations, who think the same way they do about the lack of a state education lottery, somehow they are keeping Alabama morally pristine.