Marcio Jose Sanchez/AP
A display for gay marriage celebrations is
seen on the window of Castro Village
Wine Co. in San Francisco. (AP)

California County Clerk Stops Performing Marriages

June 13, 2008 03:41 PM
by findingDulcinea Staff
The Kern Country Clerk’s decision to cease performing marriage ceremonies coincides with the legalization of same-sex marriage in California.

30-Second Summary

Kern County Clerk Ann Barnett says that her decision to discontinue performance of all marriage ceremonies is the result of “lack of staff and space.” The office of the Clerk will continue to provide marriage licenses, but says it no longer has the resources to solemnize marriages. Barnett’s decision coincides with a Supreme Court ruling that gay marriages will be legal in California starting this week. A member of Barnett’s staff said that the clerk “fully expected to be sued” for her decision.

Barnett maintains that the decision is financially motivated, but there is little evidence to support her claim. The Los Angeles Times opines that in Kern County “public officials and others in positions of power have always exhibited a fierce conservative bent.” The clerk’s office also wrote to the Alliance Defense Fund, an organization opposing gay marriage, asking for support.

Gay and straight couples alike feel inconvenienced by Barnett’s decision. One straight couple had to push up their wedding date to ensure they could have a ceremony. But Whitney Weddell, a gay rights’ activist, had a different take: “Who really wants to be married by a hater?

Two other counties in California, Butte and Merced, made similar announcements following Barnett’s announcement. In Butte County, it seems that the decision was actually made for financial reasons. Merced County has since reversed its decision.

Headline Links: ‘County clerk will stop performing all weddings’

Background: California Legalizes Gay Marriage

Opinion & Analysis: Explaining Barnett’s Decision

Related Topic: Other Offices Follow Suit


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