OLYMPIA — A Christian judge in Washington was recently reprimanded by the state Judicial Conduct Commission for refusing to officiate same-sex ‘weddings.’
Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor had made met with court employees following last year’s election, which legalized the practice in Washington, and informed his colleagues that he did not feel comfortable with performing homosexual ceremonies. An attendee of the meeting leaked Tabor’s comments to reporters, who in turned contacted the judge for further explanation.
Tabor reiterated that he did not wish to participate due to “philosophical and religious reasons,” and advised that his decision was a personal conviction and not the official position of the court. He stated that he believed that as long as other judges were in place to officiate the ceremonies, that he could choose to decline. Judges are not required to perform weddings, but should they choose to avail their services to the public, Washington state bars justices from turning away homosexuals.
Due to continued scrutiny over the matter, Tabor soon decided to decline requests to officiate ceremonies of any kind and get out of the marriage business altogether.
However, in May of this year, the state Judicial Conduct Commission filed a Statement of Allegations against Tabor after receiving complaints that accused him of violating state anti-discrimination laws. Earlier this month, it released its official admonishment, which served as a warning to the judge that his refusal was illegal.
“Respondent’s decision to perform only opposite-sex marriages discriminated against a protected class of people,” the Commission wrote. “Discriminatory behavior undermines public confidence in the integrity and impartiality of the judiciary.”
“The injury is to public confidence in respondent’s impartiality on issues that may come before him involving same-sex couples or even toward gay or lesbian lawyers, litigants, or witnesses,” it continued. “In addition, marriages sometimes lead to litigation and respondent could well have created the impression he might be less than fair to a lesbian or gay person in a dissolution or custody dispute matter.”
Tabor signed the admonishment, agreeing not to repeat the situation in the future. However, Tabor has completely discontinued officiating wedding ceremonies to avoid issues altogether.
Joseph Backholm of the Washington Family Policy Institute sees the Commission’s admonishment as being tantamount to bully tactics to punish the judge for his beliefs.
“This is just another example of how the left on the marriage issue is completely intolerant of people who don’t think like them,” he told One News Now. “[T]hey have no intention of making room in the public square for people who don’t agree with them.”
He stated that situations such as these will continue “until the public decides that they’ve had enough of this and demand tolerance in the true sense of the term.”
Tabor is a graduate of Oklahoma Christian University and served as a deputy prosecutor for nearly 20 years.