Mayors, judge clarify wedding stances after ruling

Council president/mayor Scott Broadwell, Oberlin

Mayor David Taylor, Amherst

Judge Thomas Januzzi, Oberlin Municipal Court

Mayor Barbara O’Keefe, Wellington

Same-sex marriage is now legal in all 50 states.

Following the Supreme Court’s decision Friday, our reporters reached out to city and village officials up and down Rt. 58 to find how they are handling the change-over.

We found Wellington to be a hot spot for civil marriages. Mayor Barbara O’Keefe has officiated at roughly 400 ceremonies since 1993.

She said she would have no problem joining a same-sex couple.

“If they have a license, I think the job requires that you perform the ceremony,” she said.

O’Keefe doesn’t believe it should be called a marriage, though.

“My thoughts on it was they should call it a union, not a marriage, but the union should have all the perks that a married couple has like the insurance,” she said.

Scott Broadwell, who served as council president in Oberlin and also as ceremonial mayor, said he has performed two weddings in the past year — one in September and one in March.

Like O’Keefe, he said he would have no qualms about officiating at a same-sex ceremony: “I haven’t been asked yet, but sure I would.”

In South Amherst, council president Dave Leshinski (who continues to assist with mayoral duties) said few weddings are ever performed by officials.

But with the court’s decision, same-sex marriage is “the law of the land and we would honor that,” he said.

Amherst mayor David Taylor has a no-wedding policy.

In his first three years in office, he presided at several ceremonies but in recent years has demurred.

“Normally, if somebody calls and asks if I do weddings, I usually say no,” he said. “I’m not a big believer in civil marriages.”

Judge Thomas Januzzi of the Oberlin Municipal Court issued a statement about the wedding services he performs for residents of the court’s jurisdiction (including Amherst, Oberlin, and Wellington).

Judges takes an oath to serve everyone equally under the law: “If the law provides that two person, regardless of gender, are permitted to be legally married it is not the prerogative or the province of the judge to impose his or her beliefs in contravention to the law,” he wrote. “Rather it is the duty of the judge to follow the law.”

In short, if the probate court issues the marriage license, a judge is bound by oath to perform ceremonies indiscriminately regardless of personal feelings.

Januzzi presides over three to four weddings per year. They may be scheduled for the first and third Fridays of the month.

By law, the probate courts of each of Ohio’s 88 counties are the only agencies that may issue marriage licenses.

Mayors, judges, and ministers who are ordained or licensed may solemnize vows but are not required to do so. The Supreme Court’s decision does not change that — except for public employees whose job duties specifically require them to conduct marriage ceremonies.

Jason Hawk, Valerie Urbanik, and Kelsey Leyva collaborated on this article.