With the arrival of same-sex marriage to Florida on the very near horizon, at least three County Clerks have decided to stop performing marriages in their county courthouses completely in order to avoid marrying same-sex couples.
Duval Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell, Clay Clerk Tara Green and Baker Clerk Stacie Harvey have all made the decision to end ALL courthouse weddings.
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.
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.
Fussell, a former Jacksonville City Council president, attends a Southern Baptist church and said he has considered how to handle the conflict between his personal views and professional duties that gay marriage created. He said he believes lesbians and gays should be defended and protected, but not allowed to marry.
“I believe marriage is between a man and a woman,” he said. “Personally it would go against my beliefs to perform a ceremony that is other than that.”
Residents of Baker, Clay and Duval counties who want to avoid usual wedding expenses will now have to find a minister or notary to perform the ceremony after they pick up their marriage license, but a place other than the courthouse.
Baker Clerk Harvey said the decision is as much about logistics as it is personal conviction. The room where weddings are performed each year will now be used as space for people filling out paperwork related to domestic violence injunctions.
“I needed the space and our county we’re in the Bible Belt,” she said. “... If we’re made by the law to issue a gay marriage license (we will) do that, but we are not mandated to marry couples in our courthouse.”
As the article above references, 1,911 couples were married in Duval County alone. No more.
Because of bigotry.
Sad that folks are so anti-gay that they would rather punish everyone in their county rather than marry a same-sex couple.