As a result of the California Supreme Court's decision striking down the state's ban on same-sex marriages, same-sex marriages will be legal — and will begin — next week.
Across California, as is the case elsewhere in the country, you can usually get hitched at the County Clerk's office. Don't count on that being the case everywhere any more. In rural, conservative Kern County, California, County Clerk Ann K. Barnett has canceled all solemnization of marriages by the County Clerk's office rather than marry gays and lesbians. She tries to offer a neutral excuse:
The County Clerk’s office will not solemnize weddings after June 13, 2008. We will not have the staff or space to deal with an increase in both licenses and ceremonies. Because of long-term administrative plans, budgetary reasons, and the need to increase security for elections, the Clerk’s office will cease solemnizing weddings, which is discretionary on the part of the County Clerk. As done in other counties, information necessary to solemnize marriages will be made available to those acquiring licenses.
Sorry, Ann K. Barnett, but that's bullshit. The notion that same-sex marriages are going to overwhelm the County Clerk in rural, conservative Kern County is ludicrous. This is simply about your moral opposition to the enforcement of the rule of law — as is suggested by your appeal to conservative legal organizations for help.
On Monday, The Bakersfield Californian published e-mail messages between her office and a conservative legal group, the Alliance Defense Fund in Arizona, which had unsuccessfully argued against same-sex marriage in front of the State Supreme Court.
In one message, a member of Ms. Barnett’s staff requests legal assistance, saying Ms. Barnett “fully expects to be sued” for stopping the weddings.
Here is the Bakersfield Californian story that has the emails and the details. The story cites financial records suggesting that courthouse weddings are a source of revenue for the clerk's office, not a drain on resources.
So Ann K. Barnett personally opposes gay marriage. She has the right to feel that way and to advocate her viewpoint. But I can't respect her cowardice and dishonesty. The I'm-taking-my-ball-and-going-home approach of stopping all clerk-solemnized weddings is a petty trick. But engaging in that petty trick and then offering a dishonest pretext for it is even more offensive. If she wants to stand up for her beliefs, why doesn't she just straight up refuse to abide by the law and admit why she is doing it? Then she could face the consequences of her actions according to the rule of law. It appears that she lacks the character.
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