The total number of counties in the state of Florida that have changed their policies to eliminate all courthouse weddings has gone from 3 to 14, nearly all of them in the northern part of the state near the Alabama and Georgia borders. Some of them are actually pretending that it has nothing to do with gay weddings.
To comply with the judge’s ruling, clerks have said they will issue marriage licenses. But in recent weeks and months, the majority of clerks in the conservative Panhandle have chosen to stop performing courthouse weddings.
Some said their offices were too cramped and they had too few employees to continue the tradition. Others blamed shrinking budgets that forced them to shift resources.
“Being a very small county, our staff numbers are very low and workload is quite high,” said Holmes County Clerk of Court Kyle Hudson. “Therefore, we will not be performing ceremonies for any couples, regardless of sexual preference.”
Nearly all of them have changed their policies since August, when U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle of Tallahassee ruled the state’s gay marriage ban unconstitutional.
Several clerks, including Okaloosa County’s J.D. Peacock II, have acknowledged that Hinkle’s decision played a major role in their decisions.
“I do not want to have members of our team put in a situation which presents a conflict between their personal religious beliefs and the implementation of a contentious societal philosophy change,” Peacock wrote recently in a memo to his staff.
So why didn’t you do this to avoid having any of your staff have to perform interracial or interreligious marriages? Oh yeah, because it’s still okay to be anti-gay, but not racist. That needs to change.