Recent Supreme Court rulings have changed the Kentucky one man one woman marriage laws. Several county clerks have refused to issue same sex wedding license sighting their religion. The governor told them to do their job or resign. I am so glad that I am retired.
Religions now have to deal with a same sex couple coming with a legal license and asking to be married. As a pastor I have always had the option to refuse and I have done so in times past. Active religious leaders today still have that option open to them. There are many religions in America and they each have their own traditions concerning the wedding ceremony.
In the civil service a couple needs a license and an authorized person to sign the document. The authorized person only has to verify that the two people before them are the ones on the license and ask them if they want to be married. When they answer in the affirmative the license is signed and they are married. All cut and dry and legal.
A Christian Wedding is quite different and in the United States it involves aspects of the civil wedding but also much more. In my state and church a couple come to make vows to each other and God. They come seeking a blessing on their marriage and home. It is the making of vows that makes all the difference.
When a marriage vow is made the man and woman actually make two vows at once. They make vows of commitment and fidelity to one another and they make those same vows to God! It is this act that makes the wedding ceremony sacred. The vows are binding until death do us part. Jesus made only one excuse for divorce and that was adultery.
When a person breaks the marriage vow a double sin is committed. The first sin is against the spouse and the second is against God. I count it a very serious event to make a vow to God. Breaking a vow to God is not something one does lightly and I always stress that to couples about to get married in the church. There is an eternal aspect to a vow made to God and it stays with you that long.
As there are plenty of choices for couples getting married both civil and religious clergy can have the option to conduct the service or not. Government officials who are authorized to officiate a wedding do not have that option as it is part of their job.