OHIO: Ethics Board Rules That Judges Who Perform Weddings Must Marry Same-Sex Couples Couples

Ohio Judge Allen McConnell has lost his battle not to marry gay couples. The Star-Tribune reports:

Judges who perform marriages in Ohio can’t refuse to marry same-sex couples on personal or moral grounds or because of religious beliefs, according to a state judicial conduct board. In addition, judges who stop performing all marriages to avoid marrying same-sex couples may be interpreted as biased and could be disqualified from any case where sexual orientation is an issue, according to an opinion by the Ohio Supreme Court’s Board of Professional Conduct issued Friday and made public Monday. The ruling followed a request for guidance from a Toledo judge who refused to perform a same-sex wedding last month. Municipal Judge C. Allen McConnell said he didn’t marry a same-sex couple because of his religious beliefs after the U.S. Supreme Court made gay marriage legal in all 50 states in June.

McConnell says that he will abide by the ruling.

  • Damn right you’ll abide by the ruling. Or, you can resign and let your fucking religious beliefs keep you warm in the winter and pay your damn bills.

    • JT
    • MarkOH

      Bingo. And I especially love this:
      “In addition, judges who stop performing all marriages to avoid marrying
      same-sex couples may be interpreted as biased and could be disqualified
      from any case where sexual orientation is an issue”

      Now, does this apply to ALL public officials? The Mayor of my small Ohio hometown has refused to marry any same sex couples.

      • StraightGrandmother

        Well a Mayor is not a judge so he won’t be hearing any same sex marriage cases.

        But it is an interesting question about a Mayor, can he refuse the gay couple but no the straight couple? I’d say the devil is in the details of the City Ordinances.

        • Fyva Prold

          It depends on whether it’s one of his duties or discretionary power. Does he have to marry every straight couple?

          • MarkOH

            Good questions. I know he HAS married opposite sex couples. But he is also an evangelical preacher and says it is against his religion to marry a same sex couple.

          • RoFaWh

            There’s someone who is unclear about the distinction between civil marriage and religious.

            The air might clear around this topic of discussion of the power of clergy to handle the civil side of marriage were ended, and all couples had to go to city hall to tie the civil knot.

            I am so tired of these ignorant fools.

          • So an important question arises: when he performed the other marriages, was it through authority vested by virtue of being an ordained preacher, or through authority derived from being mayor? If the former, he’s surely off the hook. If the latter, but his power is discretionary, he may or may not be off the hook.

          • The authority to perform legally valid marriage as a clergyman is derived from the state. Ordained preachers have no independent authority in that area.

          • Langalf

            RoyalScribe, Is that a “Fehu” rune for your picture? Nice.

          • Which county is that, Mark? I know the mayor of Norwalk did the same damn thing last month.

          • MarkOH

            Ha! It WAS Norwalk, county seat of Huron county.

          • That’s sorta why I’ve been in no rush, since I’m in Willard. Got the copy of the Reflector that mentioned that story and was in a state of apoplexy for at least a day afterward.

          • MarkOH

            I was going to have my partner and I go in and get our license but we live in Cleveland.

          • One of the girls at the local Taco Hell keeps asking me when we’re gonna get married b/c she wants to come with us…I keep saying, “One, we’ve not really made it official yet that we will [even though it’s a virtual certainty], and two, with how the judges and clerks are in Norwalk, I’m not sure if I would *want* to get ours here, so until they yank the stick out, I’m not sure.”

          • MarkOH

            Congrats! If we lived in Norwalk, I’d be down there so fast ……. I guess I feel the officials need to DO THEIR JOB and if their religion interferes, RESIGN.

          • teedofftaxpayer

            Does he marry the couples acting as Mayor or does he marry couples as being a preacher. There is a difference and it depends on his job description. If he marries as the Mayor then he might be responsible to do so to all couples.

          • MarkOH

            I believe he was marrying people as the Mayor

          • teedofftaxpayer

            If he was marrying people as “Mayor” then he cannot discriminate. Someone should take him to court. If he is performing Civil Ceremonies then he has to perform same sex marriages.

          • The mayor of Norwalk is a local pastor and the head of the town’s Republican Party, so take of that what you will. I’m not sure if there’s a single Dem in a position of power up there. The town is a Tea Party stronghold, and has been since about ’10, when the national wave took over.

            The reason a lawsuit hasn’t happened is that, as of a couple weeks ago, there hasn’t been a single same-sex couple get married in Norwalk/Huron County. With our population, I’m honestly shocked at that.

            I remember the so-called “Independent” opponent thinking that, at the time, he “would do the marriages, but still thinks the case could be appealed and overturned.” That was another part of the article that sent me into a rage.

        • teedofftaxpayer

          If in his job description, marrying is part of his job then he has to marry same sex couples. If he just marries as an “honor” then he might get away with it. Having said that he is a public official and his job is to serve ALL THE TAXPAYERS OF HIS TOWN. If he can’t do that, then he should resign.

  • crewman

    Excellent. This is very no-nonsense, especially combined with the additional decision that judges who refuse to perform any weddings to avoid same-sex weddings can be viewed as biased and required to recuse themselves from any case before them where sexual orientation is germane. That really strips away the pretense and reveals the heart of the judges for what they are.

    • Harley

      Too bad that rule didn’t apply to uncle Thomas and scabies Scalia.

      • abel

        “Scabies Scalia.” I’m stealing that. Thanks!

    • JT

      The second part is particularly good. They are right to bring that into the light. If a conception of “religious freedom” would allow someone to break the law, it would certainly put them under suspicion of improper rulings in their own cases.

    • HadenoughBS

      The fact that this particular judge sought “guidance” on this issue perhaps with the hope the ruling would be in his favor IMHO says a lot as to why he should NOT be sitting on the bench. Just sayin’…….

      • David Walker

        I’d love to think that Judge McConnell went to the ethics board because one of his colleagues mentioned s/he’d refuse to perform ssm ceremony. This, then, would be sticking it to the real homophobic judge. “See? Told you so.” It’s the Pollyanna in me. The realist in me, however, says McConnell got smacked down all by himself. Either way, Ohio has made it clear: After years of refusing to enforce equal justice under law, there’s no wiggle room in the June 26 SCOTUS decision.

  • Bluto

    Judges whose integrity & ethics are questioned by being barred from equality cases are not enhancing their resumes. Slimy bigoted bastards, good.

  • Phil

    They are paid by the public and must serve the public, whether they are elected or appointed. They don’t get to pick and choose. Keep that in mind for a decision that should come out later today in KY.

  • Marc

    Good. Anyone’s religious views–especially a justice of the peace’s–don’t trump civil law. He shouldn’t perform religious ceremony from his bench.

    I wonder what Toni’s zippy one-liner will be.

    • Todd20036



      • Marc

        But… Puns…? =(

  • Ninja0980

    Said it once and I’ll say it again, you are a PUBLIC servant in a PUBLIC job providing a PUBLIC service.
    If you can’t leave your religious views at home and not subject various groups to them, then resign.
    Because your office is a not a church/mosque/temple to run as you see fit.

    • Exactly, if you only want to work with people who share your persuasion or fit with your religious beliefs then work at a religious institution, you don’t get to work in a public office and still think that you can only work with people who fit with your religious views.

  • lymis

    People on the right are going to scream. But seriously. If a judge said that they would marry white people but not black people, would anyone let him hear racial equality cases?

  • beejay66

    What are “same-sex couples couples”? A foursome?

  • metrored

    Does that mean he’ll start marrying gay couples or he’ll start recusing himself when cases involving sexual orientation come before him?

  • TJay229

    Aww…Judges too

  • Guest

    Great news. Been this way in Washington state but our ‘Judges who marry at the courthouse’ roster has always been voluntary participation – no one has ever had to perform civil marriages if they didn’t want to. But if they choose to be on the roster they can’t refuse a citizen on religious grounds since the civil marriage ceremony is 100% secular.

    I do like the reasonable addition that if they choose not to perform marriages because they don’t like ‘the gay’ then they are obviously too biased for cases involving it.

    • David Walker

      Way too reasonable. Have The Truly Religious ever tried their religious moral outrage over this?

      • Guest

        No it was s non-issue. One judge said he wouldn’t and everyone said doing them at the court house was voluntary anyway. I did look and now you have to make an appointment to be married by a judge so that solves the problem in many ways I’m sure.

  • Eebadee-eebadee-thatsallfolks

    Scott Walker (just one of 17 flavors of clown now on sale) has the solution to this problem: Just dismantle all the ethics commissions. Seriously.


    • David Walker

      Why does this not surprise me? (Just as I was disgusted that Santorum always got the “former PA senator” tag, it irks me no end that Snott and I have the same last name.)

  • goofy_joe
    • goofy_joe

      This was posted on FB by a friend of mine, who happens to be a local pastor.

      • Bad Tom

        Thank you for sharing it. Enlightened pastor!

  • MDB

    Just as you do not get to cherry-pick the Bible, you pathetic sanctimonious whiners DO NOT get to cherry-pick which articles and amendments of the US Constitution you will uphold !!! LOSER.

    • IamM

      Nah. Cherry-picking your holy book is what most theology is all about. Secular law however is supposed to be to the best of our ability, fair, consistent, and objective.

  • JustSayin’

    This ruling just increased by an order of magnitude the reality of another SCOTUS case pitting religion against gay rights. This judge may choose to now follow the law (as he already should have been doing) but others won’t. This decision while not binding outside his state will be part of that case.

  • Jeff

    Many of us in this judge’s jurisdiction are wondering how he can judge ANY case brought before him if he puts his Bible before the Constitution.

  • Jeff

    Just a side note on this particular judge: His daughter faked her own kidnapping a few years ago to cover up the fact that she had absconded funds that had been placed in escrow by the Toledo courts. Normally you wouldn’t blame the parent, but his behavior at the time could be considered “unusual” (as meaning it looked like he called in some favors to get her off with only probation).

    • StraightGrandmother

      Those trust accounts can be awfully tempting.
      “I’ll take take out enough to pay the electric bill and when I get paid I’ll put it back, nobody will notice for a short time.”

  • Steven Alan Taylor

    Strange how he values his job more than his beliefs, even though he cited those beliefs as more important than his job. ALmost like those beliefs are a convenient excuse for his bigotry.

  • Octavio

    Maybe this will piss him off so much that he’ll decide being a judge isn’t really for someone so righteous and faithful as he is. LOL!

  • Bj Lincoln


  • It’s really quite simple, if one is going to have a certain Job then one must actually do said job. If their religious belief prevents them from doing their job then they need to find a new line of work and they have the freedom to do that, what they don’t get to do is continue to hold the same job while refusing to do all of it.

  • anne marie in philly

    FUCK YEAH! do your job or GTFO!

  • Edd

    Can we PLEASE stop calling it gay marriage. We don’t call opposite sex married couples straight married.

    • Reality.Bites

      The only reference to gay marriage is in the article Joe quoted. He can’t go changing the text of quotes.

      • Edd

        I wasn’t speaking to Joe specifically, I was speaking to everyone generally. If you noticed, I typed ‘we’ and ‘not you’.

  • Kissmagrits

    Let the resignations begin.

    But, for the record, I wouldn’t ask anybody who already hates my guts to solemnize my troth – his or her animosity might curse the marriage.

  • Gregory In Seattle

    So… a person who, by law, is permitted only to conduct civil weddings, is pissing and moaning about their religious beliefs when told to follow civil law when conducting civil weddings?

  • Toasterlad


  • James

    Just disqualified from hearing cases where sexual orientation is an issue? What if there are LGBT plaintiffs or defendants but the case isn’t specifically about sexual orientation? Why not disbarred?

  • billbear1961