The Schuyler County Recorder of Deeds says it will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. It was the only such office in Missouri not complying with the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling that legalized gay marriage in all fifty states. The highest court announced the decision two weeks ago. Some Missouri counties started issuing licenses that day, while others took longer.
The Schuyler County Recorder of Deeds declined to send a press release to Missourinet, but the Schuyler County Times reports the office will comply, even though it’s against the Recorder of Deeds’ religious beliefs.
A.J. Bockelman with Missouri LGBT advocacy group PROMO says the right decision was made.
“Where we had the holdouts, it was because of their own personal conviction. When you look at the requirements of their job, this is a basic requirement of their job,” said Bockelman. “If I came in and said I’m not going to do this entire section of my job,’ I would expect to be out of a job. Ultimately, all the Recorder of Deeds came to that same decision.”
“Now that the implementation has come through, we look back on it and I think many of these clerks are simply going to say ‘this is not that difficult of a process.”
Even as the final county office agreed to comply with that ruling, at least two Missouri judges say they won’t conduct any marriages following the U.S. Supreme Court decision.
Judges are prohibited from discriminating in whom they marry. If they choose not to marry same-sex couples, that means they also can’t marry couples of the opposite sex.
Bockelman says the action makes him scratch his head.
“The bigger concern is that as judges they’re saying because I don’t believe in the validity of a decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court, I’m choosing to set aside my duties in this realm. I really think it comes back to a question of judicial ethics,” said Bockelman. “What other things are they necessarily applying in rendering a decision about other issues when they are setting aside entire precedents set by the highest court.”
Bockelman says he doesn’t believe some judges opting out of marrying couples is going to be a major barrier for couples.