Gay Texas Judge Refuses to Perform Marriage Ceremonies

Texas Judge Tonya Parker cannot legally marry a woman in her state, so she refuses to perform any marriage ceremonies until there is equality. She finds it “oxymoronic” to perform a ceremony that cannot be performed for her.

Parker, an openly gay judge, told a group at a Stonewall Democrats of Dallas meeting Tuesday that when she turns a couple away, she uses it as an opportunity to teach them a lesson about marriage equality.

“I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality and until it does, I’m not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people,” Parker said in a video of the Tuesday discussion. “And it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it.”

A spokeswoman for the Texas State Commission on Judicial Conduct said the commission had no comment.

Parker is the first LGBT person elected as a judge in Dallas County and she is believed to be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the state’s history, according to the Dallas Voice.

Parker described examples of discrimination in the courtroom that she has seen and been able to stop.

She once heard a case involving a man who allegedly molested a young boy in which a participant used the terms “homosexual” and “child molester” interchangeably.

“When a man molests a little girl, people don’t call him heterosexual,” Parker said in the video. “So, when this man molests this little boy, assuming [the] allegations to be true, you are not going to stand in my courtroom and call him a homosexual.”

Another example she gave was the Texas Supreme Court’s jury instruction that dictates that jurors cannot discuss cases with their husbands or wives.

“Well, I might have modified it a little bit,” Parker said to her audience. “And I said, ‘Do not discuss this case with your husband, your wife or your partner.'”

She said these are small ways of making her point but she believes it is important to go out of her way to do things that others in the LGBT community might not be able to do because they are not in her position of power.

“I want to help those folks to have dignity, in that moment that they are with me, to know that I see you,” she said. “I see you.”

Parker wrote in an emailed statement that performing marriage ceremonies is not her duty as a judge, but, rather, “a right and privilege” that she chooses not to exercise.

“I do not, and would never, impede any person’s right to get married,” Parker wrote. “In fact, when people wander into my courtroom, usually while I am presiding over other matters, I direct them to the judges in the courthouse who do perform marriage ceremonies.

“I do this because I believe in the right of people to marry and pursue happiness,” she wrote.

Parker has said in the video that her goal as a judge is to “make sure laws are applied equally to everyone who comes to court and that we take the opportunity to put issues on people’s radar’s that might not otherwise be there.”

Seven states allow gay marriage and Maryland would become next one if the governor signs recently passed bill, as he has promised to do next week.

I love this judge! 

11 Comments

  1. That is her choice. She is not doing anything against the law. If she does not want to perform a marriage then she does not have to. As long as she would also agree that Doctors who do not wish to perform abortions also have the right to say no because they believe in equal rights for human life. If she would agree with that, than I have no problem with her doing what she is doing,

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    1. That’s exactly what’s true about doctors. No doctor is forced to do abortions. That’s actually a pretty ridiculous notion. There are so few abortion doctors. In some states, there’s only one. Women have to cross state lines to exercise their choice. So even if she did feel that doctors should “have” to do abortions, that will never happen. That’s not how the medical profession in America works.

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        1. Not really. Every judge can perform weddings simply by nature of being a judge. It comes with the territory. So making a stand to not perform them makes a big statement.
          For doctors, there is special optional training to beome an abortion provider. That’s something only a very small number of doctors ever do. It’s a very personal and hard choice to make because doctors are losing their lives over this choice. chosing not to perform abortions is the norm for doctors, it doesn’t really make a statement.

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  2. Good for her!
    There was a celebrity couple who said they would not get married until EVERYone in the US wanting to get married could get married. I don’t remember which show the female stated it on – Oprah or Ellen, I believe – but I think they eventually got married.

    I hope this judge sticks to her guns!

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  3. I do too! Good for her. I feel it’s important to embrace what you can to make your point in your own way. When I got married a couple weeks ago, my husband and I jumped the broom. A lot of black folks don’t still do that. But it represents a time in black American culture (slavery) when getting married was against the law, and I felt like I was making a statement reminding people how ridiculous it is to be against something that once applied to our people. I know this was about her being gay, not being black, but it’s still important. The LGBT community has a fight on their hands when it comes to African-Americans, and they shouldn’t. The next time you see someone jump a broom at their wedding, take that moment to examine a horrendous history that you’re helping to make someone’s present. Okay, getting off my soap box now.

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