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While the same-sex marriage ban in Florida was lifted last week by federal judge Robert Hinkle, some local clerks have decided that it is best to halt all courthouse marriage ceremonies.
As reported by the Florida Times Union, clerks in the Duval, Clay and Baker counties have decided against issuing courthouse marriage licenses in an attempt to avoid issuing licenses to same-sex couples.
Clerks from each of these counties have claimed that the debate over same-sex marriage is only one reason they decided to halt all marriage ceremonies. Ronnie Fussell, clerk at the Duval county courthouse, stated that he and his staff met for a meeting to discuss issuing licenses to same-sex couples.
After the meeting, Fussell stated that, ‘It was decided as a team, as an office, this would be what we do so that there wouldn’t be any discrimination’. He added, ‘The easiest way is to not do them at all.’
Clerks Tara Green from Clay and Stacie Harvey from Baker have both decided to follow suit, stating that they are uncomfortable issuing marriage licenses to ‘straight or gay couples’. Each clerk has stated that such acts are against their religious beliefs, with Harvey claiming that ‘[She] needed the space and [her] county [was] in the Bible Belt.’
Harvey also said she would comply ‘ If [she] we’re made by the law to issue a gay marriage license’. However, she also claims that ‘they are not mandated to marry couples in our courthouse’.
While they are not necessarily mandated to issue licenses, this is just one case where the fight for equality has been open to interpretation by those who are to uphold the law.