Have you heard about the Florida Clerks of Court, who first thought they could disregard a Federal Judge’s ruling? Then, when that didn’t work out and the Supreme Court didn’t come out on their side, decided to throw a temper tantrum?
Judge Robert Hinkle declared in August that the Florida ban on marriage to be unconstitutional. Greenberg Traurig, the law firm for the Florida Association of Court Clerks and Comptrollers warned that his ruling overturning the state ban on gay marriage only applies to the one Panhandle county that was named in the lawsuit. According to them, clerks in all other counties are not bound by Judge Hinkle’s ruling and were warned they could spend a year in prison for violating a separate state law that prohibits clerks from marrying anyone but a man and woman.
Last week, after Hinkle reaffirmed that his ruling was binding across the state, the Association has reversed themselves and now say that clerks should issue licenses or face the consequences. In response, clerks in five counties (Duval, Clay, Okaloosa, Santa Rosa and Baker) have said they will stop performing marriages. *Update 1/5/15 – 13 counties now have decided to stop performing marriages. All but one county is in the Panhandle.*
Excuse me? It seems to me that these officials having forgotten that they were elected to serve the people. All the people, not just the ones with whom they go to church.
Does anyone remember from their history lessons Strom Thurmand’s famous Dixicrat speech against desegregation?
And I want to tell you, ladies and gentlemen, that there’s not enough troops in the Army to force the Southern people to break down segregation and admit the n***** race into our theatres, into our swimming pools, into our homes and into our churches.
Is this the lesson we intend to repeat as a nation? Is this the path Florida wants to forge?
When a federal judge declares a law unconstitutional, all public officials should cease enforcing that law. If your religion prohibits you from performing your elected duties, then resign. Do not deny others their civil rights based on your religious beliefs.
There are responsibilities inherent with public office. A person’s so-called religious duty does not give anyone a pass from doing their duty of public service to the entire public.
True, performing marriages was a convenience and not a requirement, just like public pools once were. When a public servant decides that the cost of applying laws fairly should result in less public access to services, that’s when the most insidious forms of discrimination begin.
Further, in their rush to make a stand at the courthouse door (a la George Wallace), they are also ignoring the financial loss they’ll bear – the Clerks in Duval and Clay last year performed a total of 2,241 wedding ceremonies at the two courthouses and charged $30 for that service, over and above the cost of the wedding license. That’s $67,230.00 brought in by performing marriages.
Not only will the counties will suffer the loss of those funds, they will lose any additional sums which would have been paid by those who previously were not allowed to marry.
I hope that the voters in those counties remember where their Clerk’s stood at the next election. Against equality and against fiscal responsibility.