Kern Co. (Bakersfield) Clerk Ann K. Barnett Cancels Straight Weddings

Timothy Kincaid

June 6th, 2008

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]

See also:
Kern Co. Supervisors Reject Anti-Gay Ordinance
Calaveras County Joins Kern and Butte
Barnett Breaks Her Media Silence – Stupidly, of Course
Chad Vegas – Kern Co. School Board Trustee’s Double Standard
Ann Barnett Annoys Local Bakersfield Media
Two More California Counties Stop Officiating at Weddings
CA Anti-Gays Either Completely Idiotic or Shameless Liars
No Non-Religious Marriages in Kern County
A Voice of Reason in Kern Co.
Kern Co. (Bakersfield) Clerk Ann K. Barnett Cancels Straight Weddings
More Bakersfield Bigotry
Bakersfield – Not a Place to Plan Your Wedding


June 6th, 2008

Oh, is she deep in it now! I can’t wait for the first slap!


June 6th, 2008

According to the Departhment of Health Care Services in California, the following non-religious individuals are authorized to perform marriages:
*A judge or retired judge, commissioner of civil marriages or retired commissioner of civil marriages, commissioner or retired commissioner, or assistant commissioner of a court of record in this state.
*A judge or magistrate who has resigned from office.
*Any of the following judges or magistrates of the United States.
*A justice or retired justice of the United States Supreme Court.
*A judge or retired judge of a court of appeals, a district court, or a court created by an act of Congress the judges of which are entitled to hold office during good behavior.
*A judge or retired judge of a bankruptcy court or a tax court.
*A United States magistrate or retired magistrate.
*A legislator or constitutional officer of this state or a member of Congress who represents a district within this state, while that person holds office.

So it sounds like there should be plenty of other options.

Also, I don’t see why they couldn’t go to the County Clerk’s office in another county.


June 6th, 2008

Wow, this lady seems a tad obtuse! I just read a decent little thing about marriage proposals:


June 6th, 2008

While I certainly commisserate with your indignation at this bigot’s motives, I simply do not see why the government should be expected to provide anyone with a wedding ceremony — any more than it should be expected to provide a bridal gown, tuxudo, wedding cake or honeymoon. License, yes; ceremony, no.

So long as everyone is being treated equally, then let her stage her little stunt — all the better to mock her with.


June 6th, 2008

While I certainly commisserate with your indignation at this bigot’s motives, I simply do not see why the government should be expected to provide anyone with a wedding ceremony — any more than it should be expected to provide a bridal gown, tuxudo, wedding cake or honeymoon.

Kip, I think the important thing to keep in mind is that the government already stipulates who can officiate at a wedding. So yes, it is up to that government to make sure that provision is made for the non-religious to find someone who can officiate their non-religious ceremony. If the only authorized non-religious option was the county clerk’s office, I’d say this would be a big deal indeed. Effectively, it would be a way for the government to only allow for religious weddings.

Fortunately, there are other options for obtaining a civil ceremony, so that’s not a problem.


June 6th, 2008

Her position as Kern County Auditor-Controller-County Clerk is an elected position is it not?

Does the Kern County government have impeachment abilities for her position?

If so, due to the inconvenience she’s creating for all citizens of the county in addition to loss of county revenue in the tune of $50,000 annually +/- I wouldn’t be surprised if in the near future they attempt to remove her.

One thing is probably certain, she won’t be re-elected if it is an elected position.


June 7th, 2008

One thing is probably certain, she won’t be re-elected if it is an elected position.

Hard to be sure of that. The region is about 70% Republican-voting, lots of fundies and reactionaries of all stripes. It’s a piece of Oklahoma stuck at the end of the Central Valley.

Glenn I

June 8th, 2008

In making her stand she will be disappointing more het couples than same-sex couples. I wonder how many of them will blame the gays and how many will more properly blame her for the disruption of their plans and the inconvenience imposed.


June 13th, 2008

Meh. Everyone will see how she will do whatever it takes to hurt gays and no one will be impressed.

Score another point for the queer movement!

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