Wyoming Supreme Court Slams Volunteer Judge for Views on Marriage

Marriage-Alliance-Australia-Wycoming-Judge.jpgAnother example of the consequences of same-sex marriage for those who do not agree has been seen recently in the small town of Pinedale, Wyoming in the United States.

In late 2014, Justice Ruth Neely, a local Pinedale magistrate, was asked by a reporter whether she was “excited” to perform same-sex marriages. Off duty at the time, she expressed her view that marriage should be between a man and a woman. 

As we have seen in Australia, even the expression of such an opinion was enough to see a campaign begin against her. A few months later, the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics filed a complaint against Justice Neely, demanding not only that she be removed from the volunteer position of circuit court magistrate – which she had held for 14 years and pursuant to which she had the ability, but not the duty, to solemnise marriages – but also from her paid position as municipal judge of Wyoming. The Commission made the demands on grounds of “judicial misconduct,” accusing Justice Neely of bias and prejudice simply for expressing her beliefs.

Alliance Defending Freedom, a pro-bono legal advocacy group, represented Neely, contended that they would “stand beside Judge Neely and defend her constitutional freedoms”. They emphasised that the Judge typically heard cases involving parking and traffic violations and criminal misdemeanours and that, more importantly, she did not hold the authority to solemnise marriages in her role as municipal judge. The ADF wrote:

The commission brought these charges even though Judge Neely has never been asked to solemnize a same-sex marriage, no law requires magistrates to serve as a celebrant for any marriage, magistrates may decline to perform weddings for a host of secular reasons, and Judge Neely has an unblemished record of integrity, impartiality, and scrupulous compliance with the law in her more than 21 years of judicial service.

The Wyoming Supreme Court did not remove Justice Neely from office, but did consider it appropriate to issue a formal, public censure, commenting that her public statement undermines the public confidence in the integrity of the judiciary.

As reported in CBS News, one dissenting judge wrote that Neely did not breach any code of judicial conduct. Justice Keith Kautz wrote:

“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,”

This story happened far off in Wyoming, but we are seeing signs of the same happening here.  Already, employees are being targeted not for any conduct which relates to their employmenet, but for their beliefs.

Many employees at Australian businesses face persecution when their views do not align with those of the same-sex marriage lobby. The most recent example of this is IBM executive Mark Allaby, who was pressured by LGBTI activists to disavow his position at a Christian organisation in order to maintain his job. Even Coopers, which did not even express a view on the topic of same-sex marriage, was forced to cave to the same-sex marriage agenda.

Unlike Mark Allaby and Coopers, Judge Neely’s position was recognised, and according to Jim Campbell, a senior lawyer at Alliance Defending Freedom, given permission to remain:

“By affirming that Judge Neely may remain in her judicial positions, the Wyoming Supreme Court has recognized that her honorable beliefs about marriage do not disqualify her from serving her community as a judge, which she has done with distinction for more than two decades.

The court rejected the Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics’ recommendation that Judge Neely be removed from office for expressing her belief that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.

The court also stated that removing her would have “unnecessarily circumscribe[d] protected expression” and thus violated the Constitution. Judge Neely looks forward to serving her community for many years to come.”

However, not everyone who stands up for marriage will have such good fortune. For this reason, Marriage Alliance is committed to stand up on your behalf and fight for marriage and your right to express your beliefs. 

There are 3 reactions, Login to View

Please check your e-mail for a link to activate your account.