MOBILE, Ala. — The federal judge who overturned Alabama’s gay marriage ban ordered a defiant county to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, signaling to probate judges across the state that they should do the same.

About an hour after U.S. District Judge Callie Granade’s ruling, Mobile County opened up its marriage license office and started granting the documents to gay couples, according to David Kennedy, an attorney for one of the couples who wed.

Gay rights advocates said they hoped Granade’s order would smooth an uneven legal landscape where gay couples have been able to marry in some Alabama counties and not in others. However, it wasn’t immediately clear what other judges would do.

At least 22 of Alabama’s 67 counties are issuing marriage licenses to gay couples.

“Judge Granade’s ruling confirms that the U.S. Constitution requires Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to all qualified couples, gay and straight,” said Randall Marshall, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union of Alabama.

Mobile and other counties had refused to issue the marriage licenses after Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore told probate judges on Sunday they didn’t have to because they were not defendants in the original case.

Moore has argued that Granade’s Jan. 23 ruling striking down the Bible Belt state’s gay-marriage ban was an illegal intrusion on Alabama’s sovereignty.

Moore made a name for himself by fighting to keep a Ten Commandments at a courthouse, refusing to remove it even though a federal judge ordered him to. His resistance cost him his job, but he won re-election as chief justice in 2012.

Moore was not at the brief hearing Granade held Thursday. However, he was often the subject of the discussion.

Marshall called Moore’s directive, sent hours before courthouses opened Monday, a “ploy” to stop gay marriage in Alabama.

Michael Druhan, an attorney for Mobile County Probate Judge Don Davis, said Davis closed marriage license operations altogether this week – even for heterosexual couples – rather than navigate what seemed like a legal minefield of conflicting directives.

“If you stand still, you might get shot. If you move, you might blow up,” Druhan said outside court.