By Clarissa Speyer-Stocks
CatlinSpeak (Portland, Oregon)
On Sept. 3, the Marion Circuit County Judge Vance D. Day began organizing his legal defense in response to his refusals to perform same-sex marriages. Judge Day cited the First Amendment right to religious freedom in defense of his decision.
KGW reported that Day’s refusal stems from his “deeply held religious beliefs.” Day has not been performing any marriages in his courtroom for months.
In addition, Oregon law permits many different options for the legal solemnization of marriage, including going through state judges, federal judges, county clerks and religious congregations. Day uses these many alternatives as an excuse, arguing that he is not required to perform marriages, because another state official can do the job.
It should be noted that the issue is not that Day refused to perform marriages, because he is not required to do so by Oregon regulation. The issue is the discrimination that took place in his courtroom, since Day was marrying straight couples and denying same-sex couples during the same time.
Title three of the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct that all judges are required to follow is titled, “Impartial and Diligent Performance of Judicial Duties.” Day’s refusal, in this case, to solemnize same sex couples’ marriages shows a lack of impartiality due to his religious beliefs.
In an affidavit signed Aug. 17, Day stated that he was seeking to create a state-funded legal expense account for his investigation by the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability on the grounds of violation of the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct and the Oregon Constitution.
Citing his justification of in the affidavit Day stated, “These legal expenses arose by virtue of, and were related to, my service as an Oregon Circuit Judge.” On Sept. 3 the Oregon Government Ethics Commission approved Day’s request for such legal defense funding.
State law allows public officials to set up these legal expenses trusts to collect money for their legal defense for many reasons, including investigations brought to the public of Marion County, like this one.
Currently there are six judges listed on the Marion Circuit County as available to perform marriages in the area. None of them specify whether or not they would perform a same-sex marriage ceremony. Day has been removed from the lists of judges who will perform all types of marriages.
As of now, Day has denied comment to both the Oregonian and CatlinSpeak about the legal investigation.
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