Clerk cites religious beliefs for not performing marriages in Hickman County

Casey Dorton Hickman County

HICKMAN COUNTY, Tenn. (WKRN) – In the wake of last week’s Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage, several Tennessee county clerks have decided to stop performing marriage ceremonies altogether.

One of them in Hickman County made the change last Friday.

A message was posted on the Hickman County Clerk’s Facebook page Tuesday night notifying residents of the decision. The decision drew several comments both in support and opposition.

Someone commented asking “why,” to which a reply was posted that said, “There are no budget issues that have caused this and it has nothing to do with any other county. Friday was not a coincidence either.”

Hickman County Facebook Conversation
A screenshot of the Facebook reply that has since been removed.

News 2 contacted longtime Hickman County Clerk Casey Dorton who said the Facebook comment came from him.

“I made the decision to stop performing all marriage ceremonies because of my religious beliefs. I just couldn’t do it,” said Dorton. “I want to be honest with people about the reason.”

Williamson County has also stopped officiating marriage ceremonies. A sign was posted on the door at the clerk’s office on Friday.

News 2 tried contacting Williamson County Clerk Elaine Anderson several times, but our calls were not immediately returned.

The Rutherford County Clerk’s office is no longer in the marriage business as of May 1.

Rutherford County Clerk Lisa Crowell told News 2 the reason is due to a lack of space and shortage of staff.

Chris Sanders with the Tennessee Equality Project says there is a great deal of confusion about the law.

“What clerks have to do is provide marriage licenses and now after the Supreme Court ruling, they have to provide them on an equal basis to different sex couples and same sex couples. The law says that county clerks may offer marriage ceremonies, they are not required to do so,” said Sanders.

Sanders said he wants to be clear that county clerks are not obligated to offer ceremonies.

But he went on to say that it is disappointing that some clerks are choosing to discontinue all marriage ceremonies.

“Unfortunately, it hurts everybody because it makes it harder for straight couples and couples in our community to get married,” Sanders told News 2.

Sanders got word Wednesday that the Decatur County Clerk turned in her resignation, but it is not effective yet.

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