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Two California counties rebel against marriage ruling

By Rex Wockner

National News Briefs

County clerks in California's Kern and Butte counties have stopped performing all marriages so as not to have to marry gay couples.
In Kern County, where Bakersfield is located, Clerk Ann Barnett announced her decision after county lawyers told her she could not marry straight couples but refuse to marry gay couples. Officially, she said the move stemmed from a lack of staff and space to meet the anticipated demand for weddings.
But in an e-mail sent to the conservative legal group Alliance Defense Fund and obtained by the Bakersfield Californian newspaper, Barnett's office wrote: "Our question is, now that the Supreme Court has refused to stay its decision, will Alliance Defense Fund defend the County Clerk if she ceases performing all marriage ceremonies. … We fully expect to be sued and our own counsel is not being of help."
In Butte County, north of Sacramento, County Clerk Candace Grubbs cited money problems in announcing her decision. The county's largest city is Chico, population 87,000.
But the president of the California Association of Clerks and Elected Officials, Contra Costa County Clerk Steve Weir, said the money excuse makes no sense.
He told the San Francisco Chronicle that counties make money from selling marriage licenses and performing weddings.
Kern and Butte counties still have to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, but counties are not required to also offer wedding ceremonies, though most do as a courtesy and because it brings in income.



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