Panel Announces Decision On Oregon Judge Who Refused To Perform Gay Marriages


A judicial commission has ruled that an Oregon judge who refused to refused to perform gay marriages should be removed from the bench. The Oregon Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability made the recommendation on Jan. 25 after investigating ethical complaints filed against Marion County Circuit Court Judge Vance Day. The recommendation will be read by the Oregon Supreme Court; the court has the final say on whether Day will be removed from the bench or not.

Judge Day allegedly refused to perform marriage ceremonies for same-sex couple applicants and referred them to other justices, reports Reuters.

Refusal to perform same-sex ceremonies was not the only violation found by the Commission. Day also allegedly permitted a veteran convicted of a felony to own a firearm and received money from attorneys who presided before him.

“Judge Day shows no outward sign of comprehending the extent or nature of his ethical violations,” the Commission wrote in its report, according to Oregon Live.

“His conduct is of such a nature as to impugn his honesty and integrity," the Commission added.

Day reportedly instructed his staff to investigate whether marriage applicants were gay and to refer all same-sex couples to other justices.

Day’s attorney was quick to contest the Commission’s findings.

“A quick review of the decision indicates that the Commission’s ‘finding of facts’ are at odds with the evidence presented at the hearing, and some have no evidentiary support at all,” the judge’s attorney said in a statement.

Marion County Circuit Judge Cheryl Pellegrini reportedly told the Commission that Day voiced his opposition to her appointment because she is a lesbian. Day contested the allegation, holding that he opposed the appointment because Pellegrini had worked as a government lawyer. 

“His misconduct is not isolated," the Commission wrote in the report. "It is frequent and extensive. Possibly the most disturbing, Justice Day has engaged in a pattern of dishonesty. Although the goal of much of his disingenuousness appears to be covering up misconduct, some of this conduct seems to have other independent objectives."

The controversy over Day’s conduct comes after the U.S. Supreme Court upheld same-sex couples’ right to marriage in every state in 2015.  Several state-level judges have complained on religious grounds. 

Sources: Reuters via KFGO, Oregon Live / Photo Credit: Melissa Binder / The Oregonian, KOIN

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