Ruth Neely is a Wyoming magistrate judge, and following the historic 2015 same-sex marriage ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court, she has made waves by refusing to perform same-sex marriage services to Wyoming couples. According to Wyoming judge Ruth Neely, religious freedom laws protect her “right” to refuse service to gay couples. Despite the fact that performing marriage ceremonies is the primary function of her job as magistrate judge.
As Wall of Separation reports, Wyoming judge Neely has repeatedly stood by her decision to opt out of performing same-sex marriages in accordance with the newly-established law of the land in the United States.
“When law and religion conflict, choices have to be made.”
The problem facing Ruth Neely is that her job description never included a clause that gave her the options to choose whom she would preform marriages for. Not only that, the Wyoming judge has already been investigated by the state’s judicial ethics advisory commission.
The result of the investigation into Wyoming judge Ruth Neely? The commission has determined that she should be removed from the bench because she has made comments (public one) that “revealed her bias against same-sex couples and could cause the public to question both the integrity and impartiality of the state judiciary should she remain on the bench.”
“Judges do not enjoy the same freedom to proselytize their religious beliefs as ordinary citizens.”
The commission also reportedly discovered that Judge Neely appears to think that “adherence to the law is optional.”
The scathing findings of the state’s ethics commission seem to make the removal of Wyoming judge Ruth Neely from her position of authority a no-brainer, but she is vowing to fight against losing her job. In fact, she is citing the Bible as the reason that she should be allowed to discriminate against same-sex couples seeking to marry legally under the established law of the land in the United States.
During the commission’s investigation, Judge Neely compared performing same-sex marriages to buying booze for an alcoholic.
“Homosexuality is a named sin in the Bible, as are drunkenness, thievery, lying, and the like. I can no more officiate at a same-sex wedding than I can buy beer for the alcoholic.”
According to legal counsel representing the Wyoming judge, Ruth Neely’s religious beliefs should supersede the requirements of her job. In addition, the attorney called the commission’s opinion that Ruth Neely be removed from the bench for being “extreme.”
“It claims that because Judge Neely’s religious beliefs prevent her from solemnizing same-sex marriage, she cannot be a judge in Wyoming, even in a position that does not have authority to perform marriages.”
The commission, obviously, disagrees with the assessment made by Ruth Neely’s lawyer. The Wyoming judicial ethics advisory commission also didn’t say or write that Neely couldn’t be a judge, they simply determined that she couldn’t be a judge if she refused to do her job.
“She just can’t refuse to perform her job duties on the basis of her beliefs.”
Regardless of their sexual orientation.
Neely is dealing with a partial suspension from her duties while the state’s high court considers the case against her and her appeal of the commission’s decision. She is barred from working as a magistrate judge during until a decision is made in her case. However, despite her public comments bashing same-sex couples and same-sex marriage, Wyoming judge Ruth Neely is still actively working as the town judge of Pinedale.
[Image via Rena Schild/Shutterstock]