Judge Vance Day should be ousted from job, in part for refusing to marry gays, commission says


A state commission recommended Monday that Marion County Circuit Judge Vance Day be ousted from his job for his refusal to marry same-sex couples and other ethical violations.



Judge Day should be removed from the bench.

Even aside from his refusal to marry same-sex couples, Judge Day sounds like an unethical nut:

the commission wrote that Day included a portrait of Adolf Hitler in a “Hall of Heroes” artwork display he erected in the Marion County Courthouse. When Presiding Judge Jamese Rhoades told him to take it down, he told her, “You don’t want to go there because some very influential people in this town want it up,” the commission wrote. Rhoades viewed that as “a veiled political threat,” the commission said.

The commission found that Day did ultimately take down the portrait, but was reimbursed twice for the $879 that he spent matting it.

Among other problems with boundaries, the commission said that the judge hired defendants he was overseeing on probation to help with home projects for himself and his family.


Apart from Judge Day’s other, highly questionable behavior, do you think there should be a religious exemption for judges with regard to marrying gays? It seems to me a tricky issue in that a judge, above most other people, must abide by the law of the land, yet, OTOH, religious liberty should generally not be abridged. On the third hand, if a religious exemption is given to public servants, then what about private citizens, and how would such exemptions affect the orderly functioning of society? Further, what would be the test of ensuring that religious beliefs are the cause of non-compliance with the law vs. personal convictions or morals which are not necessarily part of one’s religious values?


Yes! …In the word of James Madison
… “The obligation of every human being to God, is higher than his duty to country, and not even a majority in society has the legitimate right to interfere with a man’s allegiance to divine authority.”
James Madison


That may be true, but should a judge who does not obey the law of the land remain in his position as a public servant? That is part of what I was talking about in my previous comment. I suppose you believe so since dismissing the judge might be considered “(interference) with a man’s allegiance to divine authority.”


The problem is that you then essentially set a religious requirement. If you remove religious exemptions, then you basically say that only those with certain religious views are suitable for public service. That or they have to do things in direct opposition to strongly held religious beliefs. In essence you force a state religion by how you bar others from practice of their religion. It would be a little like a state requiring all courts to be open on Saturdays and then telling Seventh Day Adventist or Orthodox Jewish judges, tough nougies if your religion interferes with your duty to the court.


You make a good point. How can we ensure then that judges are not obeying the law due to their religious beliefs and not due to personally held beliefs which are not based on their religious principles? It may be a fine distinction but, I think, an important one.


I do think there should be an exemption.


In this case I think you have to err on the side of believing that what they say is true. I don’t think you can even use the particular religion as a ruler. For instance the Episcopal Church accepts gay marriage, but that does not mean every Episcopalian does. In fact I know several Episcopalians that feel betrayed by their church embracing that stance. The ramifications of the government deciding if it is religious belief or not is truly frightening. You would basically be turning over the definition of religious doctrine to the state. I can think of nothing more in opposition to the 1st amendment than that.


The law of the land does not require the judge to marry anyone. He has the authority to marry people, according to state statute. Authority is not a mandate, and he did not interfere with the couple being married; he asked his staff to refer them to a different judge.

Judges can recuse themselves from trials, and it is not unknown for judges to recuse themselves from, for example, death penalty cases if they have a moral issue with it.

The charge by too many people is that he is violating their civil rights; he has not violated them at all. No one else wanting to be married has the right to force any particular judge to marry them; and neither do gay couples.


I agree that the government alone should not be entrusted with making the determination regarding religious belief.


This sounds reasonable to me.


It’s more like saying: People with certain religious views shouldn’t take specific public service jobs…like marrying people, for example…if they know they cannot follow the law and do that job as expected and required.
It only makes sense.

There are many, many other public service jobs the person can do that would *not *interfere with their religious beliefs…and vice versa.



Do you think that if these people are already on the job before the law was created, they should be required to step down or be fired?


Again, that means there is a religion litmus test. Simply allowing someone to recluse themselves makes the most sense.

One of the problems is that a judge that took office 15 years ago likely never anticipated having the whole definition of marriage changed by judicial fiat. What happens when some new religious infringement is inserted nto law? There has to be a balance between religious liberty and changes in the legal landscape. We have had progressive judges ignore the law and yet I don’t hear of anyone saying they are unfit for refusing to uphold the laws.


Have progressive judges actually ignored the law, or have they rather interpreted the law a different way? There is a difference.


The lady from - where, Oklahoma? - who was the County Clerk, was the one single person who issued licenses, and that was intrinsic to her position - no one else in the county had the authority to do so. The case is distinguishable in that she had a duty to issue all licenses.

So in that case, if she felt morally she could not, then she could not fulfill her job duties, and no one else could either. If she did not issue a license, a couple could not get married by anyone - judge or minister.

If a judge did not wish to marry someone, the judge could (and in this case did) pass the matter on to another judge. His refusal would not prevent the couple from marrying.

She decided she would not, and spent time in the hoosegow for her decision. While I admired her moral strength, it was my opinion that she had only one choice, and that was to resign. I don’t know if she is still in the job; someone else at one point was given the authority to issue. If Oklahoma chooses to bifurcate that responsibility, then she can stay in the position and someone else issue. And if the state does not, then she ill have to find other work.


I don’t believe that there should be a religious exemption. What if the judge had said that it’s against his religious beliefs, for example, to perform interracial marriages? And there are people who do have religious beliefs like that. For a long times, Bob Jones University did not allow interracial dating. Where do we draw the line in deciding who a public servant does not have to serve?

Even aside from this, Judge Day just acted dishonestly. Instead of standing up for his religious beliefs and stating them publicly, he had his staff investigate people who wanted to get married and then just lied to same-sex couples by having his staff tell them that he was “unavailable” on the requested day. Would we ever want a judge who’s a liar?


Why don’t you just say there should be no First Amendment, and get down to the bottom of your feelings? Any even “sort of close to accurate” reading of how the First Amendment came about would show that it was not directed to keeping religion out of the public square; it was rather directed to the experiences of immigrants from European countries which told believers who belonged to a different church than the State promoted, what they could and could not believe or do. It was specifically designed to keep the State from dictating to religions what they could or could not believe/do/say. What is the difference between the State telling the judge he has no right to a religious exemption and must marry gays, and the State telling medical students that they must learn how to do an abortion? Or telling a doctor that if he or she is going to receive payments under Obamacare, that they must do an abortion?

A good place to start is whether or not they are required as a part of that office to perform whatever service you wish that may violate their religious beliefs. And while we are on public servants, let’s go to the public servants who are school teachers. Can they be forced to teach grade school children how abortions are performed? If you send your children to public schools, can they force you to keep your children present for such classes? Can they prevent you from knowing what is going to be taught to your children? Does it make a difference if it is in high school instead of grade school?

Do you even know what is being taught in high schools?

He said he was unavailable, and that was the truth. A lie would be that he was on vacation that day if he wasn’t, or he was at a meeting if he wasn’t. You call it a lie if he does not detail why he is unavailable - but that is overreaching. Why do you feel he has a duty to tell why? Because you support gay marriages?

And you consider the judge to be a civil servant, and apparently required to do marriages just because someone picks him out and demands it.

Both Catholic priests and Lutheran priests, as well as all other ministers who witness marriages do so at the permission of the State. Does that give the State the right (since they granted the right to witness a marriage) to dictate that the priests and ministers are therefore a quasi civil servant (as they serve a function only because the State grants them the power to do so) and the State can now demand that they perform marriages simply because someone demands it of them?


The reason for recusal in such cases is that there may be a bias in favor or against a specific plaintiff or defendant. This is acceptable precisely because it is specific. It is completely unacceptable for a Judge to have a bias so extensive that it encompasses an entire class of citizenry and no such person should be permitted on the bench.

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