|Marriages to cease at area county courts|
|Written by Wauneta Breeze|
|Thursday, 13 August 2015 00:00|
By Becky Uehling
The Grant Tribune-Sentinel
Opinions by the United States Supreme Court and the Nebraska Judicial Ethics Committee have resulted in area county courts no longer performing marriage ceremonies.
At the beginning of July, the county courts in Perkins, Chase, Keith and Dundy ceased offering marriage services.
On June 26, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages across America, invalidating Nebraska’s prohibition on same-sex marriage.
On June 29, the Nebraska Judicial Ethics Committee issued an opinion on the ruling, stating, indeed, a judge or clerk magistrate may not refuse to perform a same-sex marriage, while continuing to perform opposite-sex marriages. They must perform marriages for all, or for none.
However, according to Judge Edward Steenburg, who presides over the above listed four counties, the only exception is that a judge or clerk magistrate may perform marriages for close family and friends.
In Nebraska, judges and court magistrates have the power to marry people, but it is not mandatory and is considered an “extracurricular activity.”
According to Judge Steenburg, the Nebraska Judicial Ethics Committee’s opinion did “get a conversation started” among himself and the clerk magistrates of the counties.
“Because providing the service of marriage is not required, the magistrates felt they were busy enough with required office duties and personal activities on weekends and would prefer to drop the service,” Steenburg said.
Steenburg indicated the decision was not made by the county courts because of the Supreme Court’s ruling, but for the fact that performing marriages is an optional service the magistrates decided they wanted to stop providing.
Steenburg advises couples to confirm with their preferred county that marriages are still offered before making a trip to the courthouse.