We’ve been following the story of Kern County Clerk Ann Barnett and her decision to stop the county from providing the courtesy of civil marriages. The Bakersfield Californian now reveals that Barnett may well have stopped all civil marriages from being conducted in the county.
In county government, only Barnett has the power to perform civil marriages — or deputize others to do the ceremonies — and she has already decided to cut all marriages short at the end of this week.
And her office is refusing to deputize the public as well.
The only other civil [marriage] option for both gay and straight couples could be Kern County’s judges. It remained unclear Monday whether judges can or will do the ceremonies.
Barnett cannot stop same-sex marriages from being conducted and legally recognized in Kern County. But she can ensure that all marriages are conducted by persons whose authority is granted by reason of religious ordination.
Supervisor Don Maben has a personal reason why that is not acceptable.
Maben, whose Catholic father married his Protestant mother in a civil ceremony because their faiths didn’t match up, said the issue isn’t gay marriage.
It’s about the county’s commitment to serve all its citizens.
Barnett’s spiteful action is unlikely to have much impact on same-sex couples who are seeking to wed. And as the Rev. Bryd Tetzlaff of the Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kern County has promised officiate same-sex weddings free of charge, they will not incur any additional costs.
But Barnett has hurt those opposite-sex couples who do not have the extra few hundred dollars available or those who, like Maben’s parents, have religious reasons for seeking a civil ceremony.
And I have little doubt that Barnett has opened Kern County to litigation from atheists or other persons who will question whether the County has the right to deny recognition of marriages that are not affiliated with religion.
The LA Times also has an article that discusses how Bakersfield came to be the eighth most conservative city in the country.
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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