Clark County Judges Balance Religious Belief, Same-Sex Marriage Law
Probate Court Judge Richard Carey has made arrangements for a Common Pleas Court judge to sign marriage licenses for same-sex couples, citing his Catholic faith and Ohio law. This is an excerpt from a story by Michael Cooper that originally ran in the Dayton Daily News on July 9th (read the complete story here):
SPRINGFIELD — The Clark County Probate Court has been issuing same-sex marriage licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court made it legal last month, but Probate Court Judge Richard Carey is having another judge’s name appear on the documents because he objects to those marriages on religious grounds.
The first same-sex marriage license was issued by the probate court earlier this week. In most Ohio counties it is the job of the probate judge to endorse the license. Clark County Common Pleas Court Judge Thomas Capper’s name appeared on the Clark County license, however.
The decision is a clerical matter, Carey said, and won’t prevent the probate court from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples.
The Ohio Code of Judicial Conduct provides judges who have conflicts with cases can step aside from continuing with the administration of a particular case, Carey said.
“In this case I found because of my Catholic faith that I had such a conflict,” Carey said.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled 5-4 last month that the U.S. Constitution requires states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples and to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states…
….As part of the marriage application process, a couple seeking a license must provide the proper paperwork to the clerk. Once the paperwork is received, the clerk prints out the marriage license, which is never signed by the judge. The couple never meets with the judge either, Carey said.
“It’s just printed out with the judge’s name on it,” he said.
Carey wanted to make the personal accommodation without fanfare to ensure residents weren’t uncomfortable about coming in and securing a license, he said. Carey also spoke with his six clerks about making accommodations for them.
Clark County’s probate court has issued two same-sex marriage licenses since the ruling last month without interruption.
“It’s our goal to make sure that does not happen,” Carey said.
The change is not taking away from Capper’s docket or responsibilities and means only that Capper’s name appears on the printed license, Carey said. Capper could not be reached for comment Thursday.
“It’s a small thing,” Carey said. “It’s important to me. It’s important to the practice of my faith. For the average couple that comes through that door, it will mean nothing.”
The ruling has caused individuals like Carey to find a balance between meeting the tenets of their faith and executing the responsibilities of their job — which he believes has been accomplished. If the goal is…
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