The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics has asked the state Supreme Court to dismiss a judge who has refused to preside over same-sex marriages because of her religious beliefs.
Supported by anti-gay litigation group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), Municipal Judge and Circuit Court Magistrate Ruth Neely argues she has a constitutional right to voice her opinion. ADF lawyers have said no same-sex couples have asked her to preside over their weddings. They quoted a provision of the Wyoming Constitution which prevents the state from finding a person incompetent to hold public office “because of his opinion on any matter of religious belief whatever.”
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The petition filed last month reads:
“By the commission’s logic, jurists like Chief Justice John G. Roberts and Associate Justices Clarence Thomas and Samuel A. Alito, Jr., of the United States Supreme Court could not sit on the bench in Wyoming. Not only have they written opinions explaining their view that the U.S. Constitution does not include a right to same-sex marriage, but also they (like Judge Neely) ascribe to a religious tradition that precludes them from celebrating a same-sex marriage.”
Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation and a former Wyoming resident, said:
“You can’t have a piecemeal government, or government by checkbox for the personal beliefs and bias of people who for a time hold a public office. If you want to hold a public office, you have to serve the public under the law, and if you can’t do that, you need to find another line of work.”
According to the Casper Star Tribune, a coalition of current and former Wyoming lawmakers filed a petition with the state supreme court on Monday supporting Neely’s position.