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US: Florida clerks to stop all courthouse weddings to avoid marrying gay couples

Joseph McCormick January 1, 2015
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A number of clerks in the US state of Florida may stop performing courthouse weddings in order to avoid marrying same-sex couples.

Amid confusion around which counties will issue marriage licences to same-sex couples, Circuit Judge Timothy Shea on Wednesday said a recent decision by a federal judge that the state’s same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional should be treated as “the law of Florida”. His jurisdiction covers Orange and Osceola counties.

Despite this, clerks in the Duval, Clay and Baker counties have said they will stop performing courthouse weddings, reports the Associated Press.

Those clerks have admitted that they will have no choice but issue marriage licences to same-sex couples, but opted to not perform the courthouse weddings to avoid marrying same-sex couples.

Santa Rosa and Okaloosa are expected to do the same.

“It was decided as a team, as an office, this would be what we do so that there wouldn’t be any discrimination,”Duval County Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell told the Florida Times-Union. “The easiest way is to not do them at all.”

US District Judge Robert Hinkle earlier this year ruled that Florida’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional.

Hinkle had stayed his ruling, but declined to extend the stay which expires on 5 January. Some counties have been expected to start issuing marriage licences to same-sex couples on that date, but it is unclear whether the ruling applies state-wide or just to one county.



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