Some Florida counties halt all courthouse marriages as gay weddings loom

January 3, 2015 02:07

ORLANDO, Fla. - Wedding bells have stopped ringing in the courthouses of several northern Florida counties, where clerks opted to cease all marriage ceremonies rather than administer vows to gay couples when same-sex marriage becomes legal next week.

The vast majority of Florida clerks plan to marry same-sex couples starting on Jan. 6, after a stay expires on a federal court decision striking down the state's same-sex marriage ban.

But in at least five of the state's 67 counties, in conservative northern Florida, all ceremonies are off.

"The majority of my staff have a lot of Christian beliefs and I can't force them to marry people," said Stacie Harvey, clerk of court in Baker County, which stopped performing marriage ceremonies from Jan. 1.

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