House Bill May Take Government Out Of Marriage

Wednesday, March 18th 2015, 6:44 pm
By: News 9

Marriages in Oklahoma are on the international stage. A bill, one vote away from the Governor's desk could take government out of marriage.

Nothing like this has been proposed before and only News 9's Justin Dougherty sat down with a "court clerk", whose job is at the center of the argument.

The author wanted to protect the 77 court clerks in Oklahoma. But critics said the bill will cause chaos, even in the office of the court clerks.

"How do I help them, how do I solve their problem," said Canadian County Court Clerk. Marie Ramsey-Hirst,

Marriage licenses are part of the job for Marie Ramsey-Hirst. But as Representative Todd Russ's bill progresses, Ramsey-Hirts may soon lose that control.

"Maybe this is what he thinks a good law is, but I don't think he's thought it out completely if you take the control away from the court clerk's office," said Ramsey-Hirst.

The bill would take the issuing of marriage licenses away from the clerks and put it into the hands of the people and their clergy. Under the measure, clergy or wedding officials provide a certificate that is then filed with the clerk after the wedding ceremony.

Russ said this way the state protects the clerks who morally disagree with same sex marriage but legally have to issue the license.

"If they're going to change the rules of the game in the middle of the game then, you know they think we're just a bunch of redneck hill-billies that aren't very smart but actually we figured out a way to side step the federal governments rulings," said Rep. Todd Russ/(R) District 55.

Russ called it getting out of the government marriage business.

"It just changes one piece of a mechanism everything is the way it always has been," said Russ.

But Ramsey-Hirst felt that's unlikely without a guarantee a marriage certificate will ever be filed. As far as her personal beliefs on marriages, that's not in her job description.

"I'm just worried about it getting lost in the shuffle and the issue of who gets married to when, who or how is none of my concern," said Ramsey-Hirst.

House Bill 1125 has passed the house, and in its first reading in Senate, was met without debate.