Gay Judge Sparks Anger for Refusing to Perform Heterosexual Marriage Ceremonies

Correction appended

A gay judge in Texas has controversially decided to take personal beliefs into her work, and is refusing to perform marriage ceremonies until the definition of marriage is changed to include same-sex couples.

Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker announced at a Feb. 21 meeting for Dallas democrats that she will not perform marriage ceremonies, according to NBC.

In her address to the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, Parker stated that she will not exercise her discretionary power to perform marriages, instead choosing to teach a lesson about what she claims is "marriage inequality."

"I do not perform [marriages] because it is not an equal application of the law. Period," Park told the Dallas Voice.

Rather than perform marriage ceremonies, Parker said she would use the opportunity to lecture couples about marriage inequality and explain to them why she is turning them away.

"So I usually will offer them something along the lines of, 'I'm sorry. I don't perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn't apply to another group of people,'" Parker said in her address to the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas.

Instead of performing the marriage ceremonies, Judge Parker said she will pass them on to other judges.

Parker, who is a lesbian, also mentioned additional plans to push her gay, lesbian and transgendered agendas forward. She wants to add the word "partner" to the list of people jurors are prohibited from communicating with regarding an ongoing case. She also wants to stop attorneys from using the term "child molester" and "homosexual" interchangeably.

Her controversial stance on marriage ceremonies and "marriage inequality" has not been challenged by any public figures, but people on Facebook argued over her imposing her personal opinion in the court.

One Facebook member, Kim Scott, argued that Parker was only supposed to uphold the law as it stood, not according to her own opinion and activist agendas. "She is in a position to enforce and uphold the laws as they are," Scott commented. "If she continues, she should be fired and lose her license."

Kathyrn Matheny commented that Parker should not be able to change and amend the law, in the same way that police are restricted to work within the laws as they stand. "Laws are in the Legislative branch not her !!! Don't care what she believes - she is a legal judge and knows she has no legal precedent - this isn't the court of public opinion," Matheny said.

Craig James, former Southern Methodist University running back and Texas senate hopeful, recently addressed the issue of gay-marriage in Texas. He criticized Dallas mayor, Tom Leppert for supporting a homosexual activist agenda, saying that being gay is a choice and gays will have to answer to God, blasting Leppert for marching in a gay parade.

"I think right now in this country, our moral fiber is sliding down a slope that is going to be hard to stop if we don't stand up with leaders who don't go ride in gay parades," James said. "...our kids out there need examples."

Leppert responded by assuring he doesn't support gay marriage.

"I believe marriage should be defined as one man and one woman. But I had the responsibility to represent everybody, but everybody understood where my faith was," Leppert said. "I will tell my role as a Christian is to reach out and touch everybody."

In 2010, Parker became the first lesbian to be elected as a county judge in Dallas. She released a statement, Thursday, saying that she faithfully performs all of her duties as presiding judge of the 116th Civil District Court, according to NBC.

"Performing marriage ceremonies is not a duty that I have as the presiding Judge of a civil court. It is a right and privilege invested in me under the Family Code," Parker said. "I choose not to exercise it...I do not, and would never impede any person's right to get married."

However, the large majority of commentators and critics continue to rebuke Parker for undermining her impartiality and independence; essential qualities for a judge to maintain.

Correction: February 27, 2012:

An original version of this article stated that Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker "no longer performs marriage ceremonies." Judge Parker in fact has not performed marriage ceremonies in the past, and her authority to do so is not a mandated duty, but is one she is able to choose to carry out or not to carry out at her discretion, which was described elsewhere in the original article.