Jewish Journal

County clerk refuses to perform same-sex marriages

by Brad A. Greenberg

June 12, 2008 | 11:07 am


Kern County Auditor-Controller-County Clerk Ann Barnett—that’s a mouthful—really didn’t want to perform same-sex marriages. So when the California Supreme Court ruled last month that prohibiting the exchanging of vows, official vows not civil unions, was unconstitutional, Barnett began looking for an out. This was the best she could come up with:

“Because of long-term administrative plans, budgetary reasons, and the need to increase security for elections, the Clerk’s office will cease solemnizing weddings, which is discretionary on the part of the County Clerk,” the release said. “As done in other counties, information necessary to solemnize marriages will be made available to those acquiring licenses.”

Problem is, that wasn’t the real reason she wouldn’t be performing same-sex marriages when other clerks begin issuing them Tuesday.

Barnett was viscerally, and probably morally too, opposed to the idea. She didn’t want to serve as officiant for what she likely thought would turn beautiful Bakersfield into Sodom and Gomorrah. She even sought the immediate support of the Alliance Defense Fund, a sort of ACLU for social conservatives. (The Californian broke the story.)

The irony, of course, is that Barnett bent the truth in the name of morality.

Playing devil’s advocate, if Muslim cab drivers can deny service to drunks and Christian physicians can refuse performing an abortion, why can’t Barnett—right or wrong—discriminate in holy matrimony without having to worry about “a lawsuit before breakfast?”

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