A judge in Washington State has been reprimanded by the state's Judicial Conduct Commission for publicly stating that he would not officiate at a same-sex wedding. Washington residents legalized homosexual marriage via a state referendum late last year. Shortly before the vote Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor told colleagues that he was uncomfortable with the idea of officiating at same-sex partnering ceremonies and asked if other judges would perform them in his place, according to SeattlePI.com. “His comments were leaked to the press,” the news site reported, “and Tabor reiterated his position in interviews, saying it was a personal religious objection and not an official stance of the court.”
While judges in the state aren't required to officiate at weddings, the State Judicial Commission admonished Tabor that, because he had a record of officiating at traditional weddings, Washington's anti-discrimination laws forbade him from refusing to officiate at homosexual pairings. The admonishment, which was issued October 4, was meant as a warning to Tabor that if he continued to perform only traditional weddings, he could be charged with discriminating on the basis of sexual orientation.
World magazine reported that after realizing that he did not have the personal freedom to decide whom he would marry, Tabor said he would would stop performing marriages altogether, to avoid the accusation of bias. But the Judicial Conduct Commission got the jump on him and filed an anti-discrimination complaint against him, forcing the judge to sign a formal admonishment in which he conceded that his actions “appeared to express a discriminatory intent against a statutorily protected class of people, thereby undermining public confidence in his impartiality.”
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