Some counties refuse same-sex marriages

June 16, 2008 7:41:28 PM PDT
There are three counties in California which have completely stopped performing weddings because of the State Supreme Court decision legalizing same-sex marriages. Those are Kern, Calaveras, and Butte County.

The Kern County clerk in Bakersfield will still be issuing the new marriage licenses but will not perform any marriage ceremonies.

That's not stopping an expected 30 same sex couples from preparing to get married there tomorrow morning.

Whitney Weddell and Lori Renee are thrilled to get married tomorrow.

"We got tuxedos waiting for us at the rental place and we're gonna run down there and get all gussied up in the morning and grab the mother in law and off we'll go to the courthouse," says Whitney Weddell.

The two are already wearing their wedding bands, but Whitney and Lori won't be getting married by any Kern County officials.

County Clerk Ann Barnett decided her office would not perform any marriage ceremonies starting June 13th -- just days shy of when same-sex marriages become legal in California.

Barnett, who declined comment, cites financial and staffing setbacks as the reason. Still, ministers like Rev. Byrd Tetzlaff of the Unitarian Universal Church will be at the Kern County Administration Plaza marrying gay

"I think it's important because we need to celebrate justice wherever it is and folks have been denied the right to get married for a long time," says Rev. Byrd Tetzlaff.

"It's not going to affect me! We already have six or seven people who are willing to marry us for free so we don't have to pay her $30 fee," says Lori Renee.

While the Kern Co Clerk has faced suspicion from gay marriage supporters for her timing in deciding to stop all marriage ceremonies, others are backing her actions.

"The California Family code still says that marriage is between a man and a woman. They've created legal confusion," says Ken Mettler of the Bakersfield Republican Assembly.

Many people are trying to get the Kern County Board of Supervisors to approve an ordinance that would ban the clerk from even issuing marriage licenses. Supervisors will look at that proposal next week.


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