In a deeply cynical move, some county clerks in the US state of Florida have chosen to stop officiating all marriages so that they don’t have to officiate same-sex marriages.
Last week, federal Judge Robert Hinkle clarified his earlier ruling unbanning gay marriage in Florida and ordered all county clerks to begin issuing same-sex marriage licenses from Tuesday (6 January 2015).
Clerks in some counties responded by ending the practice of holding courthouse marriage ceremonies so they can’t be accused of discriminating against gay and lesbian couples.
According to the Tamba Bay Times, the reasons given by clerks for the move included limited budgets and resources.
Okaloosa County Clerk J.D. Peacock II, however, was more honest about his decision in a memo to staff.
“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,” he wrote.
Duval Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell also told Jacksonville.com: “I believe marriage is between a man and a woman. Personally it would go against my beliefs to perform a ceremony that is other than that.”
While same-sex couples won’t be denied a marriage license in these counties, they will have to find a private marriage officer to perform the ceremony.
From Tuesday, Florida will become the 36th state in the US to allow same-sex marriages.