MONTGOMERY, Ala. — Alabama’s stand against gay marriage crumbled Friday as judges in most counties sided with federal courts rather than their own chief justice, a Republican who once called homosexuality an inherent evil. Many counties in the Bible Belt state began issuing the licenses to same-sex couples after the latest strongly worded order from U.S. District Judge Callie Granade. She said Thursday that a judge could no longer deny marriage licenses to gays and lesbians, reiterating her ruling striking down the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.

Granade’s ruling enabling gays to get licenses went into effect Monday after the U.S. Supreme Court declined to intervene. But even then, Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore said county judges were not bound by her decision.

About 20 of Alabama’s 67 counties allowed gays and lesbians to wed Monday. By Friday that number had jumped to at least 47, the Human Rights Campaign said. Other counties said they would revisit the decision next week.

Granade’s ruling made Alabama the 37th state where gays and lesbians can legally wed. While many Republican politicians in Alabama criticized her ruling last month and tried to link her to Obama administration policies, Granade was appointed to the federal bench by President George W. Bush.

Granade could have stayed her decision pending a final U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Instead, she rejected Alabama’s argument that keeping gays and lesbians from marrying benefits the state’s children. And after Moore urged judges this week to ignore her ruling, she reiterated that they are bound by the U.S. Constitution to treat all couples equally.