Are Pa. Judges Refusing to Do Same-Sex Marriages?
A new database suggests a number of Pennsylvania judges have stopped performing civil marriage ceremonies since same-sex marriage was legalized in the state last year.
The news comes as the nation watches Kentucky, where a county clerk, Kim Davis, refuses to issue marriage licenses to gay people, saying to do so would violate her conscience. Is the same thing happening here?
“While judges are not statutorily obligated to perform weddings, many of them do,” PennLive reports. “But starting last summer, after same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania, a number of district judges stopped performing marriage ceremonies.”
While the number of civil marriages performed rose across the state last year, some judges — and one entire judicial district — apparently stopped performing any marriages whatsoever. Following the expansion of marriage rights in the state, PennLive says, “the state Judicial Conduct Board sent a letter to judges telling them that if they choose not to perform same-sex marriage ceremonies, they must opt out of performing all weddings.”
The result? “In most counties, a handful of judges have not performed any marriages since the ruling, but in Perry County, all three magisterial district judges have not performed any wedding ceremonies since May 2014.” Specific statewide numbers were not offered.
Most judges did not return PennLive’s call for comment. One, Magisterial District Judge James S. Miner of Hanover, said he’d quit performing all weddings so as to avoid angering people on either side of the gay rights issue. He told PennLive: “I don’t need the conflict.”