Judge Who Won’t Officiate Gay Weddings Says the Civil Rights Struggle Inspired Him to Pursue Law

This is a guest post by Martin Williams, an Agnostic writer from a small religious town.

It’s a simple premise. If you work for the government and accept government money to do your job, then you must follow the rules or go work somewhere else. Yet time and time again, conservatives have shown an inability to understand that concept.

So it’s no surprise to see them rally in support of Toledo (Ohio) Judge C. Allen McConnell (below), who declined to do his duty by refusing to officiate a wedding for a lesbian couple.

But the more surprising aspect of this story may be how McConnell became interested in law in the first place:

… in a twist to what some critics suggested was an intolerance to gays and lesbians that interfered with his duty, McConnell has said the nation’s civil rights struggle inspired him to rise from a coal miner’s son to a lawyer and judge who championed decent housing for all.

After initially declining to do his duty, the couple had to wait 45 minutes before another judge could make their marriage official.

McConnell issued a written statement proclaiming that anything but traditional marriage would go against his religious beliefs, though if the state Supreme Court said he had to do his job, he would abide by their decision. However, a spokesperson for the Court said that’s not what they do:

An Ohio Supreme Court spokesman said the court does not issue advisory opinions such as the one he requested. The Board of Professional Conduct, a group of lawyers, judges and citizens appointed by the Ohio Supreme Court, would review Judge McConnell’s question.

The whole controversy may be moot, however, because his own court changed the rules to accommodate his request:

… the municipal court’s judges decided to resolve the situation by modifying a rule for the so-called duties judge. From now on, the court’s presiding judge, or its designated acting one, will have responsibility for marriages rather than McConnell or one of the other six judges who had been rotating.

So someone else will take over these responsibilities because a judge who was supposed to do it was unable to fulfill his duties. You have to wonder if accommodations would have been made if McConnell was anything but Christian.

Even ignoring the fact that his duties are clear and he chose this job, there’s an irony that someone who was inspired by a civil rights struggle is now making it tougher for other citizens to obtain their own.

(Image via theGrio)

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