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Florida clerk's office refuses to perform marriages

Lisa Fogarty

by

Lisa Fogarty

Lisa Fogarty has written numerous articles for USA Today, The Stir, Opposing Views and other publications. She has covered everything from red carpet events to the discovery of toxic PCBs on school windows. She lives on Long Island, N.Y....

Florida town refuses to perform same sex marriages despite court ruling

If you're in love and looking to make things official, there's one place in the country you should tell your wedding planner to cross off her list: Okaloosa County, Florida. County Clerk JD Peacock recently informed its employees that, as of Jan. 1, the office would no longer perform marriage ceremonies for lovebirds for three reasons, two of which have everything to do with Florida’s recent decision to grant same-sex couples the right to get married.

Peacock sent his employees an email dated Dec. 26 that explains the decision to no longer involve themselves in the business of love and wedded bliss. Although he makes it clear that the office will continue to follow Florida law, which prohibited same-sex marriage on the date Peacock sent his message, it will comply and issue certificates if the state changes its position — which is timely because, according to U.S. District Judge Robert L. Hinkle, all Florida clerks are, as of Jan. 1, required by the Constitution to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples that request one.

But Peacock says issuing a license is the only thing the office will do.

"First, and most importantly," Peacock explained in his email. "I do not want to have members of our team put in a conflict between their personal religious beliefs and the implementation of a societal philosophy issue."

Peacock reportedly said several of his staff members came to him and expressed concern about being forced to go against their beliefs and marry same-sex couples.

The second reason he gave for eliminating ceremonies is because he says he doesn’t believe government should compete with the "robust marriage industry" in Okaloosa.

And the third reason? Well, back to the same-sex marriage debate we go. Peacock says he believes the clerk’s office should remain detached from the same-sex marriage controversy. I'm going to guess the problem here is that, sometimes when you say nothing at all, you say a lot more than you meant to say.

Okaloosa Clerk’s Office is the second in Florida to stop performing marriages. Santa Rosa County Clerk also decided over the Christmas break to discontinue the practice as of Jan. 1.

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