On January 6th, same-sex marriages will be legal in Florida. As the date approaches, some counties in northern Florida would rather discontinue all wedding ceremonies than perform marriage services for gay couples.
Although the overwhelming majority of Florida’s counties plan to marry same sex couples, at least 5 counties – Baker, Clay, Duval, Okaloosa and Santa – will no longer conduct any marriage ceremony.
“The majority of my staff have a lot of Christian beliefs and I can’t force them to marry people,” Stacie Harvey, clerk of court in Baker County told Reuters.
Echoing Harvey’s sentiment, Okaloosa County Clerk JD Peacock II stated, “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”.
The decision to deny weddings to couples came after the Supreme Court refused to grant a delay while the state appeals a federal court’s ruling that Florida’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional.
Sharon Kersten, spokeswoman for Equality Florida expressed surprise at the county clerks’ decision.
We find it pretty shocking that they are choosing to halt all marriages because they don’t want to do gay marriages,” she said.
The counties in question will continue to issue marriage licenses, regardless of sexual orientation.