*This piece originally appeared on Lambda Legal’s blog.
by Eric Lesh, Fair Courts Project Director, Lambda Legal
Yesterday, Lambda Legal filed a friend-of-the-court brief with the Oregon Supreme Court arguing that it was unlawful for Judge Vance D. Day to devise a scheme to avoid marrying same-sex couples.
Judge Day directed court staff to use the court record system to investigate whether couples wishing to marry were of the same sex and, if so, to represent that he was unavailable, rather than unwilling, to marry them.
“A judge puts on a robe—not a clerical collar—and has a duty to administer the law impartially,” said Peter Renn, senior attorney for Lambda Legal. “No public servant, whether a judge or county clerk, has the right to ‘screen out’ same-sex couples seeking to marry from access to government services on the basis of personal religious beliefs. Everyone who comes before a judge is entitled to receive fair and impartial treatment.”
“As public servants, judges are required to serve all people, including same-sex couples, without bias or prejudice. When they break that promise, the public loses trust in the courts,” said Eric Lesh, director of Lambda Legal’s Fair Courts Project. “LGBT people and other marginalized communities depend on the courts for justice when they encounter discrimination. But how can they believe they’ll get a fair shake when judges go rogue and themselves engage in discrimination—and defend their right to do so?”