Monday, October 07, 2013

Judge Admonished For Publicly Refusing To Perform Same-Sex Marriages

In In re the Honorable Gary R. Tabor, (WA Commn. on Judicial Conduct, Oct. 4, 2013), the Washington state Commission on Judicial Conduct entered a Stipulation, Agreement and Order of Admonishment against a state trial court judge who publicly stated that he would not perform same-sex marriages in his judicial capacity, while continuing to perform opposite-sex marriages.The Agreement provides in part:
Rules 1.1, .1.2 and 3 .1 (C) of the Code [of Judicial Conduct] oblige judges to avoid impropriety and the appearance of impropriety by acting at all times in a manner that promotes public confidence in their independence, integrity and impartiality.
Washington State's law against discrimination, RCW 49.60, sets forth classes of people protected by law against discrimination. Sexual orientation is included in the classes of people protected. Respondent accepts the Commission's determination that, by announcing he would not solemnize same-sex marriages due to his philosophical and religious concerns while continuing to solemnize opposite-sex marriages, he appeared to express a discriminatory intent against a statutorily protected class of people thereby undermining public confidence in his impartiality.
When initially contacted by the Judicial Conduct Commission, Judge Tabor stopped performing all marriages in his judicial capacity. The Olympian reports on the Commission's action.