CLEVELAND (Reuters) - A northwest Ohio municipal judge assigned to a courtroom where civil marriages are performed refused to marry two women less than two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court legalized gay marriage, the judge’s office confirmed on Wednesday.
Toledo Municipal Judge Allen McConnell was on a three-week rotation assigned to perform civil ceremonies on Monday when Carolyn Wilson and her partner asked to be married. McConnell acknowledged the decision in a Wednesday statement.
“On Monday, July 6, I declined to marry a non-traditional couple during my duties assignment,” he said. “The declination was based upon my personal and Christian beliefs established over many years. I apologize to the couple for the delay they experienced and wish them the best.”
On June 26, the Supreme Court ruled that the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry, handing a historic triumph to the gay rights movement.
Toledo Municipal Court judges performed 98 marriages in 2014 and 49 marriages so far this year. Deputy court administrator Michael Zenk said the request by the women on Monday was the first time the court was asked to perform a same-sex marriage.
After McConnell refused, Judge William Connelly, Jr. performed the ceremony for the women, Zenk said.
“It is the policy of the court to accommodate wedding requests and we will continue to do that for both opposite and same-sex marriage,” Zenk said.
McConnell said he will continue to perform “traditional marriages” and is, “seeking an advisory opinion from the Supreme Court of Ohio” about whether he can “opt out of the rotation” that would have him perform civil marriages.
Wilson told local newspaper the Toledo Blade her wife does not want to be named publicly for fear of discrimination at work.
Reporting by Kim Palmer in Cleveland, Editing by Ben Klayman and Lisa Lambert