The same-sex-marriage ball is back in the court of Alabama’s probate judges — where it should be.

The Alabama Supreme Court on Tuesday night ruled, 6-2, that the state’s ban on marriage for gays is legal. That decision flies in the face of just the opposite ruling by a federal court. Now we await a pending U.S. Supreme Court decision.

The Alabama Supreme Court ruling should be allowed to stand, at least for the Heart of Dixie. This is a states-rights issue, not something that should be dictated by an overbearing central government. The beauty of the 50 states is that they don’t have to agree on everything. This is one issue where variety is the spice of life. If the Left Coast wants to celebrate and legalize anathema and social aversion, fine — it’s their right as states.

But don’t force Alabama to legalize some arbitrary and capricious behavior that besmirches the institution of marriage. Alabama law defines marriage as a legal joining of a man and a woman — the same definition sanctioned by the various church denominations represented in Alabama.

Anyone who wants more justification for the Alabama high court’s ruling should take the time to read the 134-page decision. Surprisingly, the decision was written without the help of Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore, a staunch conservative. Moore recused himself from the case probably to avoid the appearance of unfairly influencing the outcome.

So, how do we grant the same civil rights and liberties to gay couples that traditionally married couples enjoy? We find a way to define and issue “civil-union certificates” for those of same-gender persuasion. But let’s not call it marriage, which implies the procreation of children to carry on the species.

After all, that’s the one merit of matrimony that gay couples cannot effect physically by themselves. Let’s not stoop to call their cohabitation “marriage.”