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Advisory Panel Says Judges Must Marry Same-Sex Couples

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Flickr Creative Commons User Stéfan

A panel that advises judges in Ohio is warning them that they can’t refuse to marry same-sex couples.

The Board of Professional Conduct of the Supreme Court of Ohio is telling judges who perform civil marriage ceremonies that they can’t ethically refuse same-sex couples who want to marry, and that they also can’t decline to perform all marriage ceremonies to avoid the issue. 

The advisory opinion from the board personal, moral or religious beliefs should not factor into their administrative duties. And the opinion also says 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.

It also advises judges to be aware of the effect that a decision to decline all civil marriages could have on how the public sees the judiciary.