Can a Judge Refuse to Conduct a Gay Marriage?

That is the question that an anonymous New York judge asked the New York Judicial Ethics Committee.  In this judicial ethics opinion, the Committee largely did not answer it, though it did opine that the judge could choose to conduct only those weddings of his relatives and friends.  That would be tantamount, in the Committee’s view, to refusing to conduct marriages “on a facially neutral basis” and the Rules Governing Judicial Conduct do not require a judge to conduct weddings.

One response

  1. Very interesting ruling. The implication seems clear- if conducting such marriages is not an essential part of the Judge’s role, he may decline to do so. Contrast the approach taken in the UK litigation concerning marriage registrar Lillian Ladele, who was required to register same-sex “civil partnerships” despite it being clear that this was not a part of her role when she started the job, and that there were more than enough marriage registrars who could have handled the work. See my paper at http://works.bepress.com/neil_foster/46/ pp 9-14. The case (and some others of a similar nature) have gone on appeal to the European Court of Human Rights.

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