Palm Beach County Clerk to issue same-sex marriage licenses to take effect at midnight Tuesday

PALM BEACH COUNTY, Fla. – Following a federal judge’s ruling Palm Beach County Clerk Sharon Bock plans to begin issuing wedding licenses to same-sex couples at midnight Tuesday at the South Palm Beach County Courthouse.

She plans to perform a group wedding at 12:01am Tuesday.

“This is an act of equality in the state of Florida we haven’t had in 169 years,” Bock said.

Broward County and Osceola County are also planning post-midnight nuptials. Other counties plan to issue licenses to gay couples during regular business hours.

U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle’s ruling on New Year’s Day clarified that all 67 Florida clerks are obligated to begin issuing gay marriage licenses starting Tuesday.

Bock says she will open the South County Courthouse at 10:30 p-m Monday to start processing marriage applications.

Ten clerks will work and process as many as possible before the group wedding.

“We have rewritten the vows, we have our own internal application we have rewritten, and we have cross trained our staff,” Bock said.

Bock says so far none of her employees has expressed any personal issue taking part in the gay weddings.

But she says if they do, she will reassign them to a different department.

“We have 750 hard-working staff and if anyone was to ask us to make an accommodation for them for this purpose we would certainly do so,” Bock said.

Florida law says couples must take a pre-marriage counseling course, or wait three days to formally get married from the time they request their license.

But Bock is temporarily waving that requirement for same sex couples by using a hardship exemption.

“This is certainly a hardship. If a hardship cannot be 169 years in the state of Florida without having the ability to get married…I think it is appropriate for the clerk to waive that requirement,” Bock said.

Bock is encouraging same sex couples planning on showing up Monday night to fill out the marriage application ahead of time.

It is available on their website:

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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