FLORIDA: Gay Man Refuses Jury Duty While Courthouse Refuses Gay Weddings

Jacksonville resident Chuck Chapman, 63, appeared  for jury duty this week but told the judge that he will refuse to serve as long as Duval County officials refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies at the courthouse.

After a federal court ruled Florida’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, Duval County Clerk of Court Ronnie Fussell said his office would comply with the law and issue marriage licenses. But he said his staff felt uncomfortable performing weddings for same-sex couples, so the clerk’s office wouldn’t host ceremonies for either straight or gay couples. “If they feel uncomfortable performing the weddings in the courthouse, then as an openly gay man I feel uncomfortable being here [at the courthouse],” Chapman said Tuesday. Chapman is 63, and he’s lived in the city since he was 2. He graduated from Andrew Jackson High School, then the University of North Florida. He’s owned a hair salon for 22 years on the Southside. “It’s my town, and I happen to be a gay man,” he said. “Don’t make it any more difficult than it has been. It’s my town, too.”

Chapman said that he was willing to be held in contempt, but the judge dismissed him from the jury pool without giving a reason.