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Same-Sex Court Ruling Spotlights Impartiality, Opportunities For Florida Notaries

Same-sex court ruling provides opportunities for Notaries

UPDATE 7-7-15: Notaries who work as wedding officiants are likely to see more requests for their services after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that states cannot bar same-sex marriages. The court decision also underscores the role of Notaries as impartial, state-appointed, public officials.

Currently, only Florida, South Carolina, Maine and Nevada specifically authorize Notaries to perform weddings. However, Notaries in many other states have become ordained ministers and offer marriage services apart from the notarial duties.

Differing Opinions And Notary Impartiality
 

The debate over same-sex marriage has generated very strong opinions and feelings among the public on both sides of the issue — including many Notaries. However, Notaries are generally expected to carry out their duties impartially and without being influenced by their personal beliefs.

If a state’s laws do not address the issue of refusing a lawful request for a notarial act, The Notary Public Code Of Professional Responsibility Standard I-A-3 states that a Notary should not refuse to perform a lawful and proper notarial act because of the signer’s “gender or sexual orientation,” or “because of disagreement with the statements or purpose of a lawful document.”

The Notary Bulletin will continue to follow and report on developments affecting Notaries and their duties resulting from the Supreme Court’s decision.

***

This month Florida became the 36th state to legalize same-sex marriage, and Florida Notaries are now authorized to officiate wedding ceremonies for all couples.

Federal Court Ruling
 

Last August, a federal court judge ruled that the Sunshine State’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. A temporary hold on the decision pending an appeal by the state expired January 6, and recording offices were directed to begin issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples the same day.

Notaries Officiating Same-Sex Weddings
 

To officiate a wedding, a Florida Notary must be presented with a valid marriage license by the couple and must perform the ceremony within the boundaries of the state. The Notary is also responsible for completing the certificate on the appropriate portion of the marriage license and returning the license to the office of the issuing county court judge or clerk of the circuit court within 10 days after the ceremony is performed. Notaries can charge up to $30 to perform a wedding ceremony.

Addressing Notary Refusals
 

Some Florida Notaries who solemnize marriages have asked if they may lawfully refuse to marry same-sex couples. While all Florida counties are issuing marriage licenses, this question may require clarification in light of reports that some Florida county clerks who felt uncomfortable performing same-sex ceremonies would stop offering all courthouse wedding ceremonies.

The state of Maine issued a ruling in 2012 that Notaries who perform marriage ceremonies for opposite-sex couples cannot refuse to marry same-sex couples.

Last year in New Jersey the head of an atheist group claimed a bank employee refused to notarize documents for him “for personal reasons.” You can learn more about this refused notarization in the NNA’s bulletin coverage of the incident.

David Thun is an Associate Editor at the National Notary Association.

24 Comments

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Kelly Tittle

19 Jan 2015

Check this out for notaries in case you did not see this

Rod Foster

19 Jan 2015

I am a Notary in Florida. Can I refuse to marry anyone? So if someone calls me up and says they want me to marry them, does not matter their sexual orientation, can I advise them that I do not marry anyone?

Aarmando Vazquez

19 Jan 2015

How can I get of a pamphlet with the specific word used for this kind of marriage. Please let me know and how much will cost me to get on copy. Thank U Armando have a nice dahy

National Notary Association

20 Jan 2015

Hello, This PDF from the FL governor's site has sample wording for Florida wedding ceremonies: http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/notary/sample_ceremony_eng.pdf

Christi Nichols

19 Jan 2015

I would like to point out this FAQ from the Governor of the State of Florida. It was created before the laws changed, but SPECIFICALLY states that a notary may refuse to perform a marriage ceremony or other notarization on the basis of religious conviction. I hate discrimination as much as the next person. If these people want to be married it is their business. Not mine. But I don't feel that forcing someone to abandon their religious beliefs is any less of a discrimination than refusing the ceremony. Basically, what I'm saying here is that there are two sides to each of these cases, and one of them will have to be discriminated against. In this situation, I believe the same sex couple should move on to another provider for the ceremony to be performed, because there are other people to perform their ceremony, but the notary with a religious objection does not have any other option. I have not voiced my opinion either way on this subject, and am simply stating fact. The link to the document I referred to is found here. http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/notary/q_and_a(2).pdf Due to the very sensitive nature of this kind of debate, I must insist that anyone who chooses to quote from my comment, copy and paste it in its entirety. This will prevent any misquotes or out of context meanings being taken from my post.

angelia rhodes

19 Jan 2015

This artical has a flaw; Notaries in Florida may charge $30 for the Notarization of the license and a fee for time and travel as long as that is agreed upon by all parties in advance. Please make that correction so that there is no confusion. Thanks.

National Notary Association

20 Jan 2015

Hi Angelia, Thanks for bringing this to our attention. We apologize for the error and have corrected the article.

Debra

19 Jan 2015

I've been notary in Florida since 2006. the cost may not exceed the cost charged by the county clerk. in Broward that's$38. plus we can charge time and travel if billed as such in a different line.

Jill Bogen

19 Jan 2015

I would never officiate a marriage for same-sex couples. So sad that our nation is turning away from God and all that is good and right.

Yukita Manuel

20 Jan 2015

Genesis 2:22-24 AMP And the rib or part of his side which the Lord God had taken from the man He built up and made into a woman, and He brought her to the man. Then Adam said, This [creature] is now bone of my bones and flesh of my flesh; she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of a man. Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and shall become united and cleave to his wife, and they shall become one flesh.

Colleen Neeley

20 Jan 2015

What about Nevada? I would be more than willing and pleased to perform the marriage.

National Notary Association

20 Jan 2015

Hi Colleen, Same-sex marriages have been permitted in Nevada since October 2014. If you are a Notary who has been authorized to perform marriages by the state, you may do so for any couple that meets the requirements of Nevada law.

Alessandra Jackson

20 Jan 2015

While Florida notaries have the authority to solemnize the rites of matrimony or perform marriage ceremonies, they can lawfully decline on the basis of religious convictions. However, they cannot use that in a discriminatory manner. http://www.flgov.com/wp-content/uploads/notary/wedding_handbook.pdf (on the left side of the book) As a FL notary, I don't advertise neither have performed marriage ceremonies for anyone. Thus, I'm not acting in a discriminatory manner. I'm not sure how this will work for FL notaries who have performed marriage ceremonies for heterosexual couples and won't perform for same-sex couples. Maybe, they will need to stop doing it for all. I agree with Christi, and also, Angelia's post brought up the point that $30.00 is the charge for solemnizing the rites of matrimony act alone; if the notary has to travel and or provides the whole ceremony, he/she may charge other fees aside from that. Rod, yes, we can and I have done many times! I simple say, "I'm sorry, I don't perform marriages." If they insist, I repeat, "I CAN do it, but I don't advertise it and don't perform marriage ceremonies." Then, I suggest the person to do a search for notaries who do.

tara

21 Jan 2015

This isn't a forum for discussion about your religious beliefs, its for the law regardless of whether you like it and or agree with it or not.

carol

21 Jan 2015

I personally would not perform this type of "marriage" as it is against my religious beliefs.

Michele

06 Feb 2015

What about North Carolina? I would have no problem with performing the marriage.

National Notary Association

09 Feb 2015

Hello, North Carolina does not authorize Notaries to perform wedding ceremonies.

Andreia

29 May 2015

Interesting to see this becoming a space where we attack and judge others for the same rights we believe we are entitled to (heterosexuals). I will be an officiant at "same sex" wedding this weekend and am proud to be able to apply it, towards those who wish to solidify their relationships, like any other person would. It's about time we stop using religion to attack one another or throw stones, of have we forgotten the unforgettable lesson brought over 2000 years ago that we should "love one another"?...and accept them for whom they are!

Steven Veliz

27 Jun 2015

Hello am a notary in the state of Florida and as i was reading other thing about us performing the wedding! We as notary public are not allowed to refuse to perform the wedding in any form or matter or not we can be send to court.

Steven Veliz

27 Jun 2015

Hello am a notary in the state of Florida and as i was reading other thing about us performing the wedding! We as notary public are not allowed to refuse to perform the wedding in any form or matter or not we can be send to court.

awjnotary@hotmail.com

13 Jul 2015

The can of worms doesn't end with marriage ceremonies. I'm in Calif and I just talked with the SOS about refusing service for a pre-nup for same sex couples. I already knew the answer and was confirmed that there is no protection for persons of conscience. I would have to immediately resign my commission. Thanks for standing up for us NNA.

Michael Poretsky

13 Jul 2015

The question on refusing to perform gay marriages because of a notary's religious beliefs leaves out other possibilities - do those who would refuse to perform those marriages also feel it is ethical to refuse to perform marriages for interracial couples? How about for couples with different religions?

Samantha McKenzie

15 Jul 2015

I refuse to act in any capacity against my faith. Therefore, I will NOT be performing wedding ceremonies. Period. Not a supporter of 'modern wedding ceremonies' anyway.

Chiquita Blue

17 Apr 2016

I do not understand why people that do not agree with same sex marriage Eben comment on these sites. If you do not agree, that's your opinion, keep it to yourself and keep moving. Then, you want to throw religion in it as if that's the only reason you disagree. It's not, most of you are just disgusted at the word "homosexual". Homosexuals are people just like you...homosexuals perform the same acts on each other just like heterosexuals...we are all human. Tell me something homosexuals do that heterosexuals don't do....go ahead I'll wait...

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