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Judge who refused to marry gays ever gets to keep her job

Joseph McCormick March 8, 2017
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A judge who back in 2014 refused to marry same-sex couples EVER, has got away with a slap on the wrist.

Back in 2014, circuit court magistrate and municipal judge Ruth Neely said she would never marry a same-sex couple.

She said: “When law and religion conflict, choices have to be made.”

And after the Supreme Court made a sweeping ruling legalising same-sex marriage in 2015, Neely continued to refuse to perform same-sex marriage.

The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics filed a complaint against her, saying she had violated six rules of judicial conduct.

She was accused of prejudice based on sexual orientation, improper behaviour for the interview in which she declared her opposition to same-sex marriage and refusing to uphold the rule of law.

But despite an offer to drop the case against her, if she agreed not to refuse to marry gays, but she declined to accept it, saying she would continue to fight against same-sex marriage.

She has now got away with just being censured, but gets to keep her job as a judge.

A 3-2 decision found that she would be censured, rather than removed from the bench.

Justice Kate Fox wrote that Judge Neely had violated judicial conduct but went further to say that removing Neely would “unnecessarily circumscribe protected expression.”

“Judge Neely shall either perform no marriage ceremonies or she shall perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation,” Fox added.

“This case is also not about imposing a religious test on judges,” continued Fox.

“Rather, it is about maintaining the public’s faith in an independent and impartial judiciary that conducts its judicial functions according to the rule of law, independent of outside influences, including religion, and without regard to whether a law is popular or unpopular.”

The commission back in May suggested the Wyoming Supreme Court intervene in the case, and despite Neely’s attorney making a request to throw out the case, the court on Friday said it would be heard.

Unlike in other cases such as the famed case around Kim Davis, the Rowan County Clerk who went to jail for contempt after continually refusing to marry gays, judges are required to perform marriages.

Neely doesn’t have a deputy who can step in if they refuse, like Davis, and in the Rowan County case, the latter was still jailed, despite arguing that her deputy would marry gays so she didn’t have to.

Alabama Chief Justice Roy Moore will face a trial on grounds that he abused his authority to block same-sex weddings, it was announced earlier this week.

Related topics: judge, ruth neely, US

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