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Some Maryland county clerks resist officiating same-sex marriages

Thursday, December 27, 2012
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ST. MARY’s COUNTY, Md. — The Chief Clerk of the Circuit Court for St. Mary’s County, Md., said Thursday that some deputy clerks were opposed to the state’s new law legalizing same-sex marriage, based on their religious convictions and will no longer officiate at wedding ceremonies.

Joan Williams told LGBTQ Nation that those clerks will no longer perform marriages when the new law takes effect on Jan. 1

According to Williams, she felt that she could respect their religious beliefs while still maintaining her office’s ability to carry out its legally defined functions.

“There are some persons in my office that have voiced some opposition to performing same-sex marriage ceremonies — their religious feelings about the subject are strong … so it’s basically my idea that they won’t do any marriage at all,” Williams said. “Some people are just very against same-sex marriages, and I have to respect their reasons and their decisions.”

Although there was opposition in St. Mary’s County, other municipalities and government offices across Maryland have embraced the change in the state’s laws concerning same-sex couples.

Loretta E. Knight, Clerk of the Circuit Court for Montgomery County in suburban Washington D.C. acknowledged that her office already has six same-sex couples lined up for when her office opens on January 2.

Carrie Evans, the Executive Director of Equality Maryland, a LGBT advocacy organization based in Baltimore, noted that in her opinion, there appears to be nothing discriminatory about changing the policies in the circuit court offices as to which deputy clerks perform marriages.

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