Jacksonville law firm to host weddings after courthouse shuts couples out

Jacksonville attorneys Shannon Schott and Belkis Plata

Jacksonville attorneys Shannon Schott and Belkis Plata Plata Schott Attorneys

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — A Jacksonville, Fla., law firm says it will open it offices to couples who need a place to wed after the Duval County courthouse announced it would close its doors to all weddings rather than allow same-sex ceremonies.

Jacksonville attorneys Shannon Schott and Belkis PlataPlata Schott Attorneys

Jacksonville attorneys Shannon Schott and Belkis Plata

Duval is one of more than a dozen Florida counties that will no longer perform courthouse weddings following a federal judge’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage. That ruling goes into effect next Tuesday, January 6.

Duval Clerk of Courts Ronnie Fussell said the decision to stop courthouse wedding ceremonies was made in part because he and other members of his staff believe marriage is between a man and a woman.

While the clerks have a legal duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, they say they can’t be compelled to officiate the unions.

It’s a stance local attorney Belkis Plata doesn’t agree with, reports Florida’s First Coast News.

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“In the courthouse, there was a room specifically for these ceremonies that taxpayers paid for, and now no one is going to get the benefit of that,” she said.

That’s why her firm, Plata Schott Attorneys & Counselors at Law, is offering to marry couples in its office for $30., the same price they’d pay if they went to the courthouse.

“They’ve had a difficult time for years as it is, getting their relationships acknowledged. Now that they’ve had this huge victory, now they’re being shut down somewhere else. We want to help them as much as we can,” she said.

The law firm, located about five blocks from the courthouse, will start officiating weddings January 9.

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