Can Judges Refuse to Officiate Gay Weddings?

Comments

1
Sure they can refuse, just like they can refuse to officiate at mixed race weddings.
2
There was the case of the judge three or four years ago who refused to officiate interracial marriages. IIRC, he quickly retired in shame to avoid impeachment and disbarment.
3
The only problem I can see is if someone resides in a county and there are no judges available to perform the ceremony.

That would be a denial of service.
4

This guy will perform any and all weddings:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=3hIcKkKID…
5
I don't see why this is an issue. Any judge that wouldn't want to officiate my marriage because I'm gay, isn't somebody I want officiating my marriage.
6
I am a law student and my dad is a judge in California. When I was a kid I would go with him on Saturdays to "marriage duty" which was a voluntary opening of the court on the weekend to accommodate people who couldn't come during normal business hours. This meant a lot of migrant and field workers.

Services were performed in English or Spanish. They cost $30, which was a price the judges who come set. Judges are civil servants on a salary so there's no such thing as overtime. I was there to act as a witness if the couple didn't bring one and to fill out the marriage licenses while my dad performed the oath. For this, I made $5 a wedding and got a trip to In-n-Out.

The thing about marriage duty, and performing marriages in general is that it's ENTIRELY discretionary. A judge can elect to perform marriages for no one, marriages only for friends or family. They set their own rules. In part this is because they're no the only ones who can officiate. Sea captains, online priests, plenty of people can legally officiate a wedding. The dar side of this is that a judge can refuse to marry anyone they want and still stay on the right side of the law.

I can tell you the judges in my dad's district did weekend marriages because they were good people. They had a sense of duty to their community and when they saw a need they woke up early on the weekend to meet it. Those weddings were some of the most beautiful I've ever seen. Tearful, cowboy booted campesinos trying to keep composed, strawberry stains on their hands. Older couples who'd found themselves later in life. It made a huge impact on me.

If a judge refuses to marry someone because they are a bigot, then they are in the minority and not long for death. Of course I wouldn't be shocked if a judge was a homophobe, but those backwards attitudes cannot and will not outlast the progression of civil rights. Any judge witnessing two people in love over and over again is helpless but to be persuaded by it.
7
@3 there is never a lack of people to perform marriages. Go to the church of light website and you can be vested with the authority to perform marriages in a few minutes. It's harder to become a notary public than to gain the authority to officiate marriages.
8
@5 - Agreed. I'd want to know if a judge had a problem with marrying me (though I'm hetero and already married, so not likely to be an issue); if he/she did, I certainly wouldn't want to have their negativity anywhere near my vows.
9
It probably isn't a big deal in Seattle, where it would take all of 3 minutes to find dozens of people who are willing to officiate a gay wedding.

Where it could be a problem is in a rural conservative area, where officiants are few and far between. A gay couple may have few other options but to go to a judge, even if he/she is homophobic, since it is perfectly legal for priests/ministers to refuse to marry them.

If the state has legalized marriage, then it is obligated to find some method to provide that service. Somebody (I don't care if it is a judge or county clerk or whatever) must perform that function, in the name of the state, whether they like it or not.

Any judge who refuses to conduct gay weddings (but is perfectly willing to do other weddings) should be removed from the bench. Anyone that biased cannot claim to be impartial enough to be a judge.
10
Judge don't wanna do his job = fire judge, get new judge. Problem solved.

People think judges shouldn't have to do their job = idiots, ignore. Problem solved.
11
@10: Did you not read the part where it explicitly says it's not part of their duties?
12
People who don't read posts they comment on = idiots, ignore. Problem solved.
13
Anne has it right. Judges don't have to do weddings, but if they hold themselves out to the public as doing weddings, then they can't discriminate, sorry.