A judge in Marion County, Oregon, is under investigation after he reportedly refused to perform same-sex marriages when it was legalized in the state.
The state Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability, which is conducting the ethics investigation, will not comment on the probe into Judge Vance Day’s actions, leaving it unclear exactly why Day is being investigated.
But numerous local news outlets reported on Thursday that the investigation is related to Day’s decision not to marry same-sex couples.
According to Portland television station KGW, which was first to report on the investigation, “Day instructed his staff to tell couples that the judge will not perform same-sex marriages. The staffers were instructed to refer same-sex couples to other Marion County judges willing to issue them a marriage license.”
Oregon Public Broadcasting reported that Day stopped performing all marriages this spring and “informed his staff that when same-sex marriage became legal in Oregon to refer couples seeking all marriages to other county judges.”
Judges in Marion County are not required to perform marriages.
Patrick Korten, a spokesman for Day, told KGW that Day acted on “deeply-held religious beliefs.”
“It’s an exercise of his religious freedom rights under the First Amendment,” he said.
The state Commission on Judicial Fitness and Disability is conducting the ethics investigation into Day’s actions, but that investigation only came to light after the Oregon Government Ethics Commission granted Day the ability to start a legal fund this week, according to the Statesman-Journal.