FL Counties Ending Courthouse Weddings Over The Gay

Marriage equality comes to Florida on Jan. 6, but at least three counties led by bigots in that state have decided to stop doing all courthouse weddings so they don’t have to do any gay weddings. Because doing gay weddings will make the baby Jesus cry or something.

If same-sex marriage is allowed, Duval Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell, Clay Clerk Tara Green and Baker Clerk Stacie Harvey will have no choice but to issue marriage licenses to gay couples. But to avoid performing ceremonies for them, these clerks have decided to end all courthouse weddings.

The clerks said multiple factors contributed to the decision to end courthouse weddings, with gay marriage being just one of them. And they now said the new policies will take effect no matter what the courts decide about gay marriage.

Fussell says the decision came after a series of discussion with members of his staff who currently officiate wedding ceremonies. None of them, including Fussell, felt comfortable doing gay weddings so they decided to end the practice all together, he said.

“It was decided as a team, as an office, this would be what we do so that there wouldn’t be any discrimination,” Fussell said. “The easiest way is to not do them at all.”…

There were 1,911 wedding ceremonies performed at the Duval County Courthouse in 2013, compared to 6,342 marriage licenses issued. About 330 Clay County couples are married at its courthouse each year, and Baker averages about 30.

I’m not entirely sure this is legal. If state law requires it, they can’t do this. But I don’t know what state law says on the matter.

POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • colnago80

    I am also unfamiliar with the laws relative to marriage in Florida but I am curious as to who is entitled to conduct marriages in that state. For instance, are notary publics entitled to conduct marriage ceremonies?

  • Mike Morris

    Sniping from the hills after they lost the war.

    I’ll wager the courthouse marriages will start again after a while, sooner if they get a lot of bad press.

  • Erp

    From what I’ve read the wedding ceremony at the clerks’ offices are at the discretion of the clerk; they don’t have to offer them though most (all?) did. Florida is pretty easy going on officiants though I’m not sure humanist officiants as humanist officiants are ok (universal life ministers, notary publics, etc. are fine).

    “All regularly ordained ministers of the gospel or elders in communion with some church, or other ordained clergy, and all judicial officers, including retired judicial officers, clerks of the circuit courts, and notaries public of this state may solemnize the rights of matrimonial contract, under the regulations prescribed by law”

  • wscott

    Ah, so all those times the bigots claimed that allowing gay marriage would somehow prevent straights from getting married…THIS is what they meant?

  • David C Brayton

    Drats, I was really looking forward to getting married and paying my property tax bill at the same time.

  • Steve the Drunk Unicyclist

    IANAL, SDA, yada yada yada.

    I thin the key is in the stats quoted

    1,911 – ceremonies

    6,342 – licenses.

    The ceremony is optional, the license is not. They can’t stop the issuing of licenses, but they can stop doing any officiating at optional courthouse ceremonies.

    That said, they’re still a bunch of narrow-minded bigots. I figure it’s a short time before they try an end-run and perform some opposite-sex ceremonies, get caught, and get sued.

  • StevoR

    Because doing gay weddings will make the baby Jesus cry or something.

    Ah reckon dat bebe Jesus is crying coz he done shit iz diaper wat iz wet and full right now an’ needs changing! Jus’ like dem stoopid hompophboic bigts minds an’ dat adult jeezus ‘ee wud understand.

    – With apologies to da southern accent which ah actually kindaz like. (An why do we y’all use two letters to start a werd when one does jus’ fine?)

  • DukeOfOmnium

    Florida is one of three states that allow notaries public to perform weddings. It will be interesting to see what happens the first time that a notary (who is a quasi-public official) refuses to perform a wedding for a same-sex couple. And let’s face it, such a refusal will surely come,

  • parasiteboy

    The clerks said multiple factors contributed to the decision to end courthouse weddings, with gay marriage being just one of them.

    Multiple factors my ass!!! I really wish the media would ask the simple obvious follow-up questions. Call bullshit and ask “What other factors?”. They will either babble incoherently or give no other reason, either way it would be on record.

  • StevoR

    Also sorry Brandine and de other guy from dat Simpsons show. Dey’s southerners righ ..?

    (But not as Southern as me! Hell get much furthers outh dan I live and you be in Antartica what!)

    / Adds apologies to P’fessr Frink from dat same show, ibid.)

  • StevoR

    @ parasiteboy : Ain’t dere nuff on record already?

  • wesleyelsberry
  • StevoR

    Also bigotry, homophobia and this shithouse attempt to dodge the inevitable acceptance of individual peope who live other people getting married same as everyone else? Fuck that!

  • StevoR

    Fuck ’em!

    The bigots I mean and no, not literally.

  • StevoR

    Also yeah I know I can’t do accents. Ain’t gunna stoop me tryong most likly.

  • http://motherwell.livejournal.com/ Raging Bee

    Message: “We told you gay marriage would destroy the Sacred Institution of Marriage, and we won’t have you making liars of us!”

  • erichoug

    StevoR,

    I’m not sure a racist, African American accent is a good way to expound on your thoughts.

    If that’s all you have to contribute, maybe just keep it to yourself.

  • Pierce R. Butler

    The three counties named are all in the northern borderland zone we call Florgia.

    No doubt some of those from Florabama will follow suit in due course (situated on the western side of the time-zone line, they’re customarily a little behind in these matters).

  • erichoug

    Really? You mean I have to get a friend of mine to get ordained online for free instead of getting married by some squinty little fundagelical clerk?

    Bummer.

  • U Frood

    If we can’t have our ball to ourselves, we’re taking it and going home!

  • kantalope

    The war of northern aggression was fought to defend slavery and “multiple factors contributed to the decision” too. Southererns and their twists on language never cease to amaze.

  • John Pieret

    Nothing is too petty for the Talibangelicals ….

  • eric

    It will be interesting to see what happens the first time that a notary (who is a quasi-public official) refuses to perform a wedding for a same-sex couple. And let’s face it, such a refusal will surely come,

    Depends on what you mean by ‘wedding.’ The optinal ceremony? Nothing will happen; AFAIK the law does not require any officiant to perform such a ceremony, and it sounds like in FL, no such ceremony is needed to be legally married. Now if you’re talking ‘they refuse to fill out and stamp the wedding certificate’ – well, in that case I predict such a person will change their mind, be fired very quickly, and/or have a very short day in court. AIUI the court case that lead to the ruling being discussed was precisely on the question of whether officals can refuse marriage licences: they cannot. Doing so would run afoul of a court ruling that was literally handed down last week, in which the judge expressly told them they could not refuse, and which sounded ominously like he was saying ‘if you do, you won’t get the standard ‘civil servant doing their job’ protection from being personally liable.’

    ***

    While these are terribly bigoted and insulting acts, I can’t help but think that it will be good in the long run if the state stops being associated with the ceremonial aspects of marriage. I can see how providing such a service could be well-intentioned, especially for people who are poor/rushed, can’t afford to put their own ceremony together, yet want this momentous occasion to be marked by more than just “sign here, [stamp], have a nice day.” But honestly, the state shouldn’t be in the business in the first place. Licence, yes. Ceremony, no. That’s what you do with your friends and loved ones, on your own time.

  • http://drx.typepad.com Dr X

    The clerks said multiple factors contributed to the decision to end courthouse weddings, with gay marriage being just one of them.

    Other factors were same-sex marriage, homosexual marriage and ick.

  • pocketnerd

    Thus Spake Zaraeric:

    While these are terribly bigoted and insulting acts, I can’t help but think that it will be good in the long run if the state stops being associated with the ceremonial aspects of marriage. I can see how providing such a service could be well-intentioned, especially for people who are poor/rushed, can’t afford to put their own ceremony together, yet want this momentous occasion to be marked by more than just “sign here, [stamp], have a nice day.” But honestly, the state shouldn’t be in the business in the first place. Licence, yes. Ceremony, no. That’s what you do with your friends and loved ones, on your own time.

    The entanglement of the legal and ceremonial aspects of marriage is certainly the root of the problem, particularly as several religions believe they own marriage and should have a say in who can and cannot benefit from its civil aspects. The obvious solution is to separate the two entirely: Let the churches have “marriage” as a legally-meaningless ceremony and the states can issue civil unions, registered partnerships, or whatever you want to call ’em.

    I have no idea how you’d make this happen, though. It would be a phenomenally unpopular venture; the religious right would absolutely lose their minds at the prospect of giving up what remaining control they have over who can marry whom. I’m sure they would dial the FUD-o-Meter up to levels never before seen.

  • abb3w

    Hm; 741.07 says clerks and notaries may solemnize, but not that they must. If they refuse to do so across the board, it’s not discriminatory per se. However, if some county lacks anyone willing and qualified under law to perform the necessary solemnizing for the non-religious, that might be grounds for a lawsuit, eventually; and since the existence of a a statute setting the fee for solemnizing indicates that action is an official duty of such clerks , it might give standing to an equal protection lawsuit by anyone so refused.

    But I am not a Lawyer.

  • ragarth

    Sounds like the bigots just created a job opportunity for someone with a universalist license.

  • lorn

    Sounds like someone ordained as a minister could make a pretty penny, and make a point, running a mobile wedding chapel through the parking lot of the courthouse. Set up a route covering all the non-compliant courthouses and establish a schedule. For twenty bucks we park the semi, fold out the steps, turn on the lights, fluff up the flowers, crank up the music, and have a short, but quite nice, little wedding. The bride then returns to the steps as rice and flower petals sprinkle down, she or he tosses out the bouquet … and on to the next couple.

    You could do a more modest version with a minivan, a 12′ square pop-up pavilion, a carpet runner, a boom box, and some artificial flowers.

  • chilidog99

    I say: good for them! While they are at it, they should fill the courtrooms with cement so that black people can’t go swimming in them either.

    😉

  • some bastard on the internet

    U Frood @20

    If we can’t have oureveryone’s ball to ourselves, we’re taking it and going home

    FTFY.

  • eric

    Pocketnerd:

    I have no idea how you’d make this happen, though. It would be a phenomenally unpopular venture; the religious right would absolutely lose their minds at the prospect of giving up what remaining control they have over who can marry whom

    Well, maybe you get the conservatives to do it themselves, as they just did in FL. Hype the fact that if state officials conduct ceremonies, that will mean [gasp!] that all those poor, hardworking, real American state clerks will [horror!] be forced against their will to conduct gay wedding [ick!] ceremonies [horror!]. But hey, [cue the national anthem], those fine Real Americans from Florida have solved the problem! We can avoid giving those dirty dirty gays a ceremony if there are no state-run ceremonies for anyone [cry a tear for the beauty – or is that gleeful spite – of it].

    The only real trick involved is getting the homophobes to think they thought all of that up themselves.

  • had3

    Follow the money: if the loss of >1900 ceremonies costs them $20k-$60k/y ($10-$30 per ceremony), there’ll be a reversal in some quiet future.

  • vereverum

    @ lorn #28

    Of course, to protect the citizens from fly by night mobile wedding chapel scams, all mobile wedding chapels will have to be licensed. Applications will be available as soon as some are printed; the contract bidding process may take some little amount of time but it is being done in a timely manner, so just be patient.

    .

    @ Pierce R. Butler #18

    “…customarily a little behind…”

    so what’s an hour among friends?

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