Yesterday we told you of Kern Co. Clerk Ann K. Barnett and her decision to cancel all weddings officiated by county officers so as to avoid allowing gay couples the same privileges as straight couples. Today the Bakersfield Californian provides more information about the extent she went to accommodate her biases.
At her request, County Counsel Bernard Barmann filed a brief with the California Supreme Court opposing implementation of the May 15 ruling allowing gay marriage.
She tried to resign her elected position as county clerk — while keeping her positions as auditor-controller and elections boss. “She really wanted to get rid of it,” Barmann said.
And finally, when the ruling came down Wednesday that she had to license same-sex marriages, she decided to stop performing all weddings. That involved canceling 25 heterosexual ceremonies that had been scheduled after June 13, according to her staff.
The Californian also obtained email correspondence between Barnett’s office and the anti-gay legal advocacy group Alliance Defense Fund.
Our question is, now that the Supreme Court has refused to stay its decision, will Alliance Defense Fund defend the County Clerk if she ceases performing all marriage ceremonies as of 5:00 pm on June 16th?
The newspaper also disproved Barnett’s claims about the cost of conducting ceremonies and space requirements.
I don’t fault Barnett for seeking to find some method by which she would not be called to perform a ceremony which she found to be contrary to her religious beliefs. And if that means that she personally would not perform any ceremonies at all, that would be fine with me.
But Barnett did not limit her actions to herself. She declared that no persons authorized by the County will perform weddings. And if that is an inconvenience to the 25 heterosexual couples, all gay couples, and those clerical officials who would delight in bringing joy to couple of all orientations, well that’s just too bad. Everyone must pay the price for Bennett’s disappointment and all her employees must work according to Bennett’s religious dictates.
It appears that County Clerks are not obligated to provide civil ceremonies and indeed some counties do not. This, however, raises the question – are all marriages in Kern County now religious ceremonies? Is there no mechanism by which atheists or others can seek a civil wedding? If, say, a divorced Catholic wishes to re-marry are they required to seek officiation by someone whose sole qualification is that they are the practitioner of some other faith?
This may not be the last we hear of this story.
[Hat tip: Stefano]
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