Some Florida Clerks Refuse to Perform Any Marriages Rather than Recognize Same Sex Couples January 6, 2015

Some Florida Clerks Refuse to Perform Any Marriages Rather than Recognize Same Sex Couples

***Update***: Earlier, we accidentally said the clerks were going to stop giving marriage licenses to all couples. That was our mistake; they can’t do that. These clerks are choosing to not officiate all wedding ceremonies. The couples can still get their licenses, though. Sorry for the confusion!

We already know that the Religious Right loves marriage so dearly that they desperately want to keep it away from gay couples.

Turns out, in Florida, there are some city officials who love it so much that they would prefer to keep it away from everyone rather than let gay people get married.

Zack Ford at Think Progress writes that clerks in fourteen counties in Florida have recently ceased performing all ceremonies:

Clerks in those counties have offered various justifications to the Tampa Bay Times for ending their courthouse wedding services, including cramped offices, staff limitations, and shrinking budgets. Others admitted that same-sex marriage was a contributing factor.

These include clerks like Paula O’Neil, of Pasco, who called the choice to stop performing ceremonies “an easy decision to make.” While she also cites pecuniary considerations, she acknowledges that opposition to marriage equality was a driving force.

Most of her staff who handle marriage licenses were “uncomfortable” officiating same-sex weddings, she said.

The problem is we can’t discriminate,” she said. “So there are some people who would have wanted to transfer to another area, and we can’t transfer everybody.”

This is a source of conflict also alluded to by J.D. Peacock II, clerk of Okaloosa County — another county that has decided to stop performing marriages in order to take a stand for marriage.

“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.

Because there’s nothing “contentious” about refusing to let anyone get married in your county because you’re no longer allowed to unequally and unlawfully prevent some from marriage, right? These are essentially playground tantrums, acted out by adults: if I have to share my toy, no one’s going to play!

After having lost their case in the courts — and in the court of public opinion — as gay marriage bans are falling all over the country and public support for marriage equality is on the rise, these “protests” only serve to hasten equality’s arrival. It’s hard to see these officials as anything but petty.

(Image via Shutterstock)

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