Ohio judges who perform civil marriages may not refuse to conduct a ceremony for a gay couple, nor may they refuse to do all marriages based on personal beliefs opposing gay marriage, the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board for Professional Conduct said.
The ruling follows the refusal by a judge in Toledo to conduct a same-sex ceremony for a couple in July, shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay marriage was a right in all states. Toledo Municipal Judge C. Allen McConnell said in a written statement he was following his personal and Christian beliefs.
But the professional conduct board, in an advisory opinion issued Friday and announced Monday, said refusing to perform the ceremony on that basis amounts to a violation of a judge’s oath of office.
“The oath represents the judge’s solemn and personal vow that he or she will impartially perform all duties incumbent on the office and do so without regard to the status or class of persons or parties who come before the court,” the board opinion states. “The oath is a reflection of the self-evident principle that the personal, moral, and religious beliefs of a judicial officer should never factor into the performance of any judicial duty.”
Not a tough call, your honors.