Oregon: A conservative Christian judge who claims his religious beliefs don’t allow him to marry same-sex partners has been suspended for three years without pay.
Judge Vance Day, the former chair of Oregon’s Republican Party and a conservative Christian who claims his religious beliefs don’t allow him to marry same-sex couples, has been suspended for three years without pay by the Oregon Supreme Court for his refusal to marry same-sex couples.
Pacific Northwest News reports:
The Oregon Supreme Court on Thursday took the unusual step of suspending a sitting state court judge — Vance Day of Salem — for three years.
The high court found that Day, first appointed in 2011 to the bench in Marion County Circuit Court, committed “willful misconduct” and made “willful misstatements” to investigators to cover up the truth.
Day acted with prejudice against same-sex couples by deciding he wouldn’t marry them and he instructed his staff to employ a scheme to avoid “public detection” of his plan, the Supreme Court said.
Previously, the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability issued a scathing report urging the state Supreme Court to remove Judge Vance Day from the bench. The 48-page report details what it described as a long list of ethical and even criminal missteps it found Day committed. Among the most egregious was the commission’s finding that Day refused to marry same-sex couples and told his office staff to lie about why.
At the time, the nine-member panel made the rare recommendation of removing Day from the bench after determining in a two-week hearing that Day had undermined public trust by refusing to marry same-sex couples.
The commission accused Judge Day of discrimination based on sexual orientation, among other serious charges, noting:
His misconduct is not isolated. It is frequent and extensive.
Among the commission’s findings:
Day refused to marry same-sex couples; he included a portrait of Adolf Hitler as part of a “Hall of Heroes” artwork display he erected in the Marion County Courthouse; Day shoved his judicial business card at his son’s soccer referee in an attempt to intimidate the referee into backing off; and Day wrongfully allowed a felon to handle a firearm.
Reports indicate that whenever a same-sex couple asked Judge Day to officiate, he told his staff to lie about his availability and direct them to another judge. Judge Day did not dispute that practice, but argued same-sex couples were not denied their rights because another judge was always found to marry them.
Commenting on the suspension, Ethan Rice, an attorney for New York-based Lamba Legal, a nonprofit organization supports the rights of the LGBT community, said:
A judge is a public official, not a priest, and is required to perform the duties of the office without bias or prejudice.
Rice is correct. If Judge Day’s religious beliefs prevent him from doing his job, ne needs to find another job.
Bottom line: A conservative Christian judge who claimed his religious beliefs would not allow him to marry same-sex couples has been suspended for three year without pay for refusing to do his job and other misdeeds.