Kern County Not Performing Any Marriage Ceremonies

June 17, 2008 10:25:42 AM PDT
As county clerks across the state prepare to marry more same sex couples Tuesday, Kern County's won't be one of them.The Kern County Clerk here 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 here Tuesday morning.

Whitney Weddell, Bakersfield: "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."

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 out here at the Kern Co Administration Plaza marrying gay and straight couples for free.

Rev. Byrd Tetzlaff, Unitarian Universal Church: "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."

Lori Renee: "It's not going to affect me! We already have 6 or 7 people who are willing to marry us for free so we don't have to pay her $30 fee!"

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.

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

Many people here 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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