Good point, your honor

2 Mar

“I do not perform [any marriage ceremonies] because it is not an equal application of the law. Period.”

– Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker

Here’s the story in brief, as carried by on-line news curator Newser:

Dallas judge Tonya Parker says she won’t be conducting any marriage ceremonies until she and every other gay person in Texas have the same right to marry. When she turns straight couples away, Parker tells them: “I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.” Parker passes the ceremonies on to other judges so the straights can get married.

“It’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it,” Parker tells the Dallas Voice. The Texas Committee on Judicial Ethics describes officiating at weddings as a “discretionary function” that must not interfere with “mandatory judicial duties,” so Parker—who was elected in 2010 to preside over Dallas’ 116th Civil District Court—can’t be accused of shirking her duties, notes the Dallas Morning News. http://www.newser.com/story/140374/gay-texas-judge-refuses-to-marry-straights.html

I gotta say, the judge makes a good point. She’s basically applying the same “right of conscience” principle that conscientious objectors of the Vietnam War and religious objectors of birth control and abortion have invoked (http://www.npr.org/blogs/health/2012/02/16/146921508/birth-control-latest-collision-between-individual-conscience-and-society) when compelled by law to perform an act they consider immoral or unjust. (I see the judge’s position as different from that of the folks who want the right to refuse birth control and abortion, in that her decision isn’t potentially life-threatening, nor does it contradict the law: whereas birth control and abortion are legal regardless of your identity, marriage is not.)

I hope Judge Parker’s conscientious position catches on–and not just among gay judges.

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