VENTURA, Calif. (AP) — A Southern California county will soon be saying "I don't" to couples looking for thrifty weddings on Saturdays.
Judges in Ventura County have officiated Saturday weddings for $65 or less for at least the past three decades, marrying thousands of couples. But they've decided to stop performing the simple ceremonies because of a new law that says they can't charge for the service, according to the Ventura County Star. The ceremonies will stop for good in January.
To continue them, judges would have had to perform the weddings for free on their days off.
California Assemblyman Evan Low introduced the new law that prohibits judges from taking payments for performing weddings. The Democrat's chief of staff says the intent was to ensure officials aren't making a profit from the service.
Richard Dean, a retired county clerk and recorder, said the Saturday weddings date from at least the early 1980s and that a nominal fee was always charged.
"It was probably the cheapest wedding in town," he said. "As long as people have access to weddings at a reasonable cost, that is a good service to offer the public."
Scott H. Bice, a law professor at the University of Southern California, said he doesn't see an ethical issue because the judges are performing the service outside normal working hours.
Still, he said he doesn't have much sympathy for the judges, who earn more than $191,000 a year.
They should donate their time, he said.
"They get paid a good compensation," Bice said. "... They are charging for overtime, and what the Legislature has said is, 'You get enough salary; be a good citizen.'"
Information from: Ventura County Star
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