Law firm to marry gay couples after courthouse stops ceremonies

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. -- Starting Monday, the courthouse will no longer be an option for couples who want to tie the knot, prompting some to make a last minute dash to the courthouse chapel while they still had the chance.

Matthew and Lillian Meyers had to push their wedding date up.

"We were going to do it the day after my birthday, next week the 9th," she said.

When they heard the courthouse is ending its long standing tradition of marrying love birds, they had to change their plans.

"When we heard about the gay marriage, we thought we hope we can still do it, otherwise we won't have anyone to marry us," she said.

Meyers is referring to a recent decision made by a federal judge that says all Florida clerks have a legal duty to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples starting Tuesday.

In an interview with the Florida Times Union, 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.

"I believe marriage is between a man and a woman," he told the TU. "Personally it would go against my beliefs to perform a ceremony that is other than that."

It's a stance local attorney Belkis Plata doesn't agree with.

"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 gay couples in their office for 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 firm will start officiating weddings January 9.

Plata said she's disappointed the courthouse will no longer offer a service hundreds of people take advantage of every year.

"It doesn't matter what our personal beliefs are. We've all had friends who have been in relationships we don't agree with, but who are we to say who they be with or not be with? If it's the law, you have to follow it," she said.

To schedule a wedding ceremony, call 904-516-5560 or click here to visit the website.

Baker and Clay Counties will also stop offering courthouse wedding ceremonies as of January 5.


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