Wyoming Judge Ruth Neely has been censured by the state’s supreme court after she has said that her religious beliefs would not allow her to preside over same-sex marriages the Daily Mail reports.
Judge Neely has never been asked to preside over a same-sex marriage. She was investigated by the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics in 2014 for an answer she gave in a public interview with a news reporter.
The court stated that Judge Neely violated the judicial conduct code, but she would not be removed from her position as a judge, as it would ‘unnecessarily circumscribe protected expression’
Neely barely kept her position as a judge in a 3-2 vote, and she “shall either perform no marriage ceremonies or she shall perform marriage ceremonies regardless of the couple’s sexual orientation” as written in the decision paper by Justice Kate Fox.
Fox News Reported:
Neely’s case has similarities to legal action against a Kentucky clerk of court jailed briefly in 2015 after refusing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples. The case against clerk Kim Davis, a conservative Christian, sparked a national debate over the religious freedom of civil servants versus the civil rights of same-sex couples. Davis ultimately agreed to alter the licenses to remove her name and title.
In Neely’s case, the dissenting justices argued that Neely didn’t violate any judicial conduct code. “Wyoming law does not require any judge or magistrate to perform any particular marriage, and couples seeking to be married have no right to insist on a particular official as the officiant of their wedding,” Justice Keith Kautz wrote in the dissent that was joined by Justice Michael K. Davis.
Neely, who’s not a lawyer, is a municipal judge in Pinedale, a town of about 2,000 residents, and a part-time circuit court magistrate in Sublette County, a rural county rich in outdoor recreation and oil and gas. The majority of her work as a magistrate is to perform marriages.