Wyoming's Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics aims to remove a small-town municipal judge from her judicial posts because of her stance against conducting same-sex marriages.
Municipal Judge Ruth Neely is asking the Wyoming Supreme Court to stop the commission from ending her 21-year career in the town of Pinedale, according to The Daily Signal
The situation began in 2014 after Neely told a reporter that she wouldn't be able to perform same-sex marriages due to her religious views.
Wyoming's Democratic Party chairwoman Ana Cuprill forwarded her comment to the commission, saying she felt Neely's religious beliefs would influence her judgment if an LGBT person was involved in a case, and "that would be a liability in our town."
Neely is not authorized to perform marriages in her full-time municipal judgeship. In her part-time job in the Pinedale Court, she could be asked to do it, but has not been asked, according to the Daily Signal.
The Casper Star-Tribune
reported that the commission said it wouldn't prosecute Neely if she resigned both her full-time and part-time judge jobs and never sought public office again, but Neely has refused.
In a brief filed with the Wyoming high court, Neely's lawyers said, "No judge should be expelled from office because of her core convictions."
Members of the LGBT community have sided with Neely. Pinedale resident Kathryn Anderson said in an affidavit that disciplining Neely for her beliefs would be "obscene and offensive."
Anderson was married to another woman in Pinedale, but didn't ask Neely to perform the ceremony because she knew about the judge's religious beliefs, the Daily Signal reports.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty
filed a friend-of-the-court brief supporting Neely. The fund's counsel Daniel Blomberg said, "In America, the government doesn't get to punish people for their religious beliefs."
According to the National Review
, the case was not similar to Kentucky Clerk Kim Davis' marriage license case because Neely isn't required to perform marriages as part of her job, and has not been asked to.
The Daily Signal reports that Jason Marsden, executive director of the Matthew Shepard Foundation, sided with the commission, saying Neely must "serve the public under the law," and if she cannot, "you need to find another line of work."
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