Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Some civil servants in California don't want to do their job

County clerks in Butte, Kern and Merced counties have tried to get around performing same-sex marriages--by ceasing to officiate any weddings --gay or straight-- when the upcoming June 17th date set by the State Supreme Court rolls around. That's defending traditional marriage alright.

In Merced, at least, the County Clerk's office retracted their statement once they heard from county officials.

The typical excuse has been a lack of financial recources, space or staff. At first I thought, to myself, if that's the way you want it, then perhaps the state of California might not have the resources to give you any water from the California Aqueduct, or power from the state grid. And for certain, GLBT folk will know where not to spend their money on vacation (especially since more Californians are vacationing in-state with the high price of gas and plane tickets).

Yet in Kern County, one of the two remaining counties trying to not officiate same-sex marriages, a coalition of straight churches have pledged to stand by and have a minister on hand to perform weddings at all times to anyone who may need them*. With the November constitutional amendment on the ballot, it would be counterintuitive to hurt our allies by calling for a complete and outright boycott of those counties, in the very portions of California where support and goodwill are crucial. At the least, we won't honeymoon there.

Perhaps the best revenge would be for those County Clerks that don't want to follow the law just get the privilege of sitting back and watching the rest of California's counties reap the financial windfall expected to follow the legalization of same-sex marriages.

And maybe, too, getting to see how stupid they'll look to the rest of the state. The SF Chronicle noted that Contra Costa County Clerk Stephen Weir called officiating same-sex couple's weddings a no-brainer, noting that his County clerk's office makes $72,000 a year already in officiating weddings. The Californian reported that Kern County has recouped a tidy profit by providing marriages over the last two months, at $30 a pop. They also mentioned that County Clerk Barnett has cancelled 25 heterosexual marriages that had been already scheduled for after her June 13th deadline (does that mean that, technically, Barnett is against all marriage?) throwing the nuptials of those couples into limbo. Let's see how those county officials that drag their feet try to come hat in hand in Sacramento for more funding for schools and roads and other services when they turned their nose up at easy, legal money. If you know anyone who lives in Kern County, you might let them know how Barnett's decision has cost the county thousands of dollars in potential income --and be sure to remember that come election day.

It isn't like anyone was asking them to produce pollution-emitting cars, or sell guns that would be used in robberies or anything heinous that would actually affect the quality of life of other Californians.

*It might not be a bad idea to turn a positive spin on this, and send notes of thank you to the Rev. Byrd Tetzlaff, of the Unitarian Universalist church, who has pledged to be on hand at the County clerk's office, all day, every day through November 4, to perform weddings for free to any couple who shows up. You can e-mail her at minister@uufkc.org or drop her a note (and maybe a donation) at:

Unitarian Universalist Fellowship of Kern County
POB 296
Bakersfield, CA 93302-0296

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