Maury Co. Trustee To Stop Officiating Marriages After Discrimination Allegations

Posted at 2:00 PM, Aug 31, 2016
and last updated 2016-08-31 15:00:28-04

Maury County Trustee Steve Konz, who recently came under fire for saying he would not officiate marriages for same-sex couples while continuing to do so for male-female couples, now said he will no longer officiate any marriages at all.

Konz, who retains power to officiate marriages based on his position as a former Maury County Commissioner, was facing pressure from the Washington, D.C.-based non-profit, Americans United for Separation of Church and State. The group sent Konz a letter last week, implying he may be at risk of a discrimination lawsuit if he didn't choose either to officiate all ceremonies or to officiate none at all.

The controversy came to a head on Monday, when Maury County resident Caleb Banks asked Konz to officiate a vow renewal for him and his husband -- a request that Banks said Konz turned down. 

Konz said he did not turn down Banks' request specifically, but rather Konz had made the decision to stop performing all ceremonies before Banks arrived, after receiving the letter from Americans United.

Judge for yourself: The exchange between Konz and Banks was live-streamed on Banks' Facebook page.

Konz told NewsChannel 5 that he was "just trying to be helpful" in offering his services because he said not many other former commissioners exercise their ability to perform ceremonies, but he said he has the right to refuse same-sex ceremonies on personal and religious grounds, saying he does not think they are "biblical."

Banks said Konz, as a former Maury County Commissioner who was granted the power to officiate marriages by the government, does not have the right to invoke religion or personal reasons to discriminate against one couple over the other.

Konz said while he had mentioned he would not perform marriages for same-sex couples, none had actually asked him to perform a ceremony.  He also stated he has turned down the opportunity to officiate some male-female couples' weddings, as well.

Nonetheless, Konz said, he made the decision to stop performing all ceremonies, partly at the urging of his wife.

"I just need to stop," Konz said. "I don't need to be sued, it's not worth it."

Konz has once before decided to stop performing all wedding ceremonies, after the U.S. Supreme Court decision allowing same-sex marriage, but he said he started back up, "quietly" presiding over some male-female ceremonies since then.

Banks, who has been in contact with Americans United, said he is still weighing his legal options.