Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor Refuses To Marry Same-Sex Couples In WA
On Nov. 6, the lives of LGBT Washingtonians changed for the better. Voters decided that same-sex marriage was a Washington state value, and the Evergreen State joined Main and Maryland as the first-ever states in history to approve gay marriage by popular vote. On Dec. 6, Washington began to issue marriage certificates to same-sex couples and at 12:01 a.m., Dec. 9, ceremonies were held statewide.
Gary Tabor did not join in the jubilation. In fact, Tabor has flat out refused to follow the law. Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor has notified court personnel that he will not marry same-sex couples. Kristal Rowland, Tabor’s judicial assistant, confirmed this to Seattle Gay News on Dec. 20.
A Thurston County employee, who asked the local gay newspaper not to identify them on condition of anonymity, said the judge made his position known at a Dec. 5 meeting of judges and administrative staff.
At the meeting, senior staff indicated that the next day would likely be very busy, because it would be the first day that gay and lesbian couples could apply for marriage licenses after the passage of same-sex marriage. According to the SGN’s source, Tabor said at the meeting that he would "not be comfortable" marrying same-sex couples.
It would seem that Tabor has found a loophole: Availability.
Presiding Judge H. Christopher Wickham said, "This is just an availability issue, nothing more than that."
"Judges take weddings as available," Superior Court administrator Marti Maxwell explained. "Some only do evenings, some only do weekends, and some will even take out-of-county weddings. My boss [Wickham] says it’s not county business, it’s not court business -- it’s up to the judge."
Washington State’s Marriage Equality Act includes a blanket exemption for religious officials who object to same-sex marriages.
"No regularly licensed ordained minister or any priest, imam, rabbi, or similar official of any church or religious denomination is required to solemnize any marriage," the law says.