MESQUITE, Texas – An LGBT group on Thursday expressed concern over an elected judge openly defying the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage.
“Because of my faith in God as a devout Catholic, I will only be conducting traditional marriages,” Metzger’s post reads.
Metzger cites a non-binding opinion issued by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton after the landmark ruling last June.
The opinion stated clerks and judges who perform marriages could object to same-sex marriages “so long as other authorized individuals are willing to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies.”
Cece Cox with Resource Center in Dallas, which provides LGBT health and advocacy services, said that’s not how equal protection works under the law.
“Of course people could go somewhere else to get their marriage license but they shouldn’t have to do that,” Cox said. “If he chooses not to marry a gay couple, he’ll be in violation of the law.”
Retired Dallas County district judge John Cruezot told News 8 that Metzger’s position is on a shaky legal foundation.
“You don’t have to do any marriages, nobody can compel you to do a marriage,” Cruezot says. “However, once you take on one set of individuals, you have to do it for everyone.”
A Harris County district attorney’s opinion, also issued after the Supreme Court ruling reflects that sentiment and also cites the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct, which says “a judge who chooses to perform marriages must do so for same-sex couples, notwithstanding any personal religious objection.”
“If I do marriages, I do all or none,” Cruezot says. “It’s a bad signal to be a judge, even if it is a justice of the peace, and then make an independent decision that you’re going to follow the law for some folks but not for others.”
There have been no legal challenges to the one man, one woman marriage policy.
Cox says it’s possible that could change in the near future.
“I hope he values his tenure in office because he may just get the boot,” Cox says.
Repeated attempts over two to reach Metzger by phone, email and in person at his office in Mesquite office for comment were not successful.