ABA Issues Guidance on Judges Performing Same-sex Marriages

The American Bar Association Standing Committee on Ethics and Professional Responsibility released today a formal opinion giving judges guidance related to their options for performing same-sex marriages under the Model Code of Judicial Conduct. The formal opinion differentiates between the obligations of a judge whose performance of marriages is either mandatory or optional. In either case, Formal Opinion 485 said the Model Code of Judicial Conduct is violated “by refusing to perform marriages for same-sex couples while agreeing to perform marriages of opposite-sex couples.” If a judge is not obligated to perform marriages, the judge “may decline to perform all marriages for members of the public” while maintaining that prerogative for “family and friends,” the opinion said. Still, the judge must be consistent and not discriminate based on sexual preference in performing those specific marriages.
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