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Oregon Public Official Refusing to Perform Same-Sex Marriages

Phil Roeder-cc
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But unlike Kim Davis, he is referring requests to other judges

Another public official is making it clear that he will not preside over same-sex “marriages.”

As a Kentucky county clerk continues to back down from her jail cell, county judge in Oregon has made it know that he refuses to solemnize same-sex “marriages” and is raising funds to help in his legal defense.

Like Rowan County Clerk Kim Davis in Kentucky, Judge Vance Day says he is motivated to take the action out of religious convictions.

Unlike Davis, however, Day has asked his clerks to refer couples seeking same-sex “marriages” to other county judges.

Day, a circuit court judge and former chairman of the Oregon Republican Party, is facing an ethics investigation over his decision, according to a spokesman, television station KGW reported.

Spokesman Patrick Korten said Day instructed his staff to tell couples that the judge will not perform same-sex marriages. The staffers were instructed to refer same-sex couples to other Marion County judges willing to issue them a marriage license.

Korten said the Salem judge took the action based on his “deeply-held religious beliefs.”

“It’s an exercise of his religious freedom rights under the First Amendment,” Korten said.

The station said that Day joined the bench in 2011, and has never presided at a same-sex “marriage,” even after Oregon legalized them in 2014. He stopped doing marriages of any kind this past spring. Judges in Marion County are not required to perform marriages, and Marion County’s website lists five active judges and one retired judge who are available for marriage ceremonies.

Nevertheless, Day’s decision led to an ethics investigation by the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness, Korten said. On Aug. 19 he signed an affidavit saying he was seeking to establish a legal defense fund to defray legal expenses in connection with inquiries by the Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability involving allegations of violations of the Oregon Code of Judicial Conduct and the Oregon Constitution. On Thursday, the Oregon Government Ethics Commission voted unanimously to approve his request to establish the fund. It was not immediately clear whether Day was under investigation.

Oregon law allows a wide range of officiants at marriage ceremonies, OregonLive reported. Among those allowed to conduct such proceedings, known in legal parlance as “solemnizing” the marriage, are state judges, federal judges (including magistrates), county clerks and religious congregations.

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