Yolo County Clerk-Recorder Freddie Oakley will retire at the end of December to take a position with Hillary Clinton’s presidential campaign.
Oakley, who began her career with Yolo County in 1987, was also the registrar of voters and the assessor. She became nationally known in 2007 for her support of same-sex marriage as courts examined the legality of a state ban.
“I know that I am leaving these departments in the hands of capable, dedicated workers who know their jobs perfectly and do them with enthusiasm,” she said in a press release Monday.
She began her career in Yolo County as the chief deputy public guardian, directing an office that offered care to frail, elderly and mentally ill people.
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She was appointed to a vacant seat on the Yolo County Board of Supervisors in 1997, and two years later she began serving as chief deputy clerk and recorder. She was elected clerk and recorder in 2002.
On Valentine’s Day 2007, the push to legalize gay marriage was in the news. As the state Supreme Court considered the constitutionality of California’s ban on gay unions, same-sex couples filed into Oakley’s office requesting marriage licenses.
At the counter, Oakley told them she couldn’t marry them.
“It was odious, because I felt that I was enforcing a religiously based law that was just wrong,” Oakley told The Bee’s Cynthia Hubert in a profile.
Oakley said she concluded she “could quit my job, break the law or try to change the law.”
She tried to change it.
Oakley began issuing documents to same-sex couples that read: “I issue this Certificate of Inequality to you because your choice of marriage partner displeases some people whose displeasure is, apparently, more important than principles of equality.”
She was among the first to issue authentic licenses to same-sex couples during a short legal window of opportunity in 2008. Same-sex marriage is now legal.
Oakley, 67, was an unlikely proponent for gay rights. She is an evangelical Christian and grandmother in a longtime marriage to her husband, John.
“I look forward to having time to spend with my husband of nearly 50 years who is now an emeritus professor and actually has time to spend with me,” Oakley said in the release.
The Yolo County Board of Supervisors is responsible for filling the position being vacated by Oakley. An interim administrator will likely be named.