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Dallas Judge Won’t Preside Over Straight Marriages

Dallas Judge Won’t Preside Over Straight Marriages


Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker, who has the power to perform legal marriage ceremonies in her court though is not required to do so, has said that until marriage equality is legal in Texas she will not preside over heterosexual marriages.

Judge Parker, who identifies as a lesbian, aims to use this tactic to raise awareness about the inequality of Texas state’s current law.

Parker made these comments to a Feb. 21 meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas, saying:

“I use it as my opportunity to give them a lesson about marriage inequality in this state because I feel like I have to tell them why I’m turning them away. So I usually will offer them something along the lines of, ‘I’m sorry. I don’t perform marriage ceremonies because we are in a state that does not have marriage equality, and until it does, I am not going to partially apply the law to one group of people that doesn’t apply to another group of people.’ And it’s kind of oxymoronic for me to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for me, so I’m not going to do it.”

You can watch a video of Parker’s comments below:

Judge Parker has received some criticism saying that she is failing to do her job properly by refusing to wed opposite-sex couples. However, she has since issued a statement clarifying that while judges can preside over marriages the job does not require that they do so, and that she never turns a couple away without first ensuring that they can have their marriage officiated by someone else.

Statement via

I faithfully and fully perform all of my duties as the Presiding Judge of the 116th Civil District Court, where it is my honor to serve the citizens of Dallas County and the parties who have matters before the Court.

Performing marriage ceremonies is not a duty that I have as the Presiding Judge of a civil district court. It is a right and privilege invested in me under the Family Code. I choose not to exercise it, as many other Judges do not exercise it. Because it is not part of our duties, some Judges even charge a fee to perform the ceremonies.

I do not, and would never, impede any person’s right to get married. In fact, when people wander into my courtroom, usually while I am presiding over other matters, I direct them to the Judges in the courthouse who do perform marriage ceremonies. If my deputy is not busy, I will even ask him to escort or help these individuals find another Judge who performs the ceremonies. I do this because I believe in the right of people to marry and pursue happiness.

Another story of workplace protest also arose this week where a gay hairdresser refused to cut the hair of New Mexico Governor Susana Martinez for her stance against marriage equality.Read more on that here.

Related Reading:

New Mexico High School Bans Clubs to Escape Gay Support Group?

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$2M National Study on ‘Making it Better’ for Canadian LGBTQ Youth


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Image used under the Creative Commons Attribution License with thanks to alex-s.

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4:30PM PDT on Jul 20, 2012

Sometimes things that happen in Texas surprise me. This is a happy thing. Yay, Judge Tonya Parker! It would be nice if a judge would stand up in California, where I live.

4:58AM PDT on Jun 4, 2012

Individual actions together with mass actions will change the world.

4:14PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

i wish i could find this woman, give her a big hug and thank her for standing up for our rights!

2:41PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Good for her!

2:04PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Awesome Judge Parker! The majority of the people of this country do want to see equal rights given to and protected for all of our citizens.

1:17PM PST on Feb 26, 2012

You go, Judge Parker! Bravo!

9:54AM PST on Feb 26, 2012

YES! We need people to stand up for EQUALITY for EVERYONE!

4:36AM PST on Feb 26, 2012

More power to her!

4:21AM PST on Feb 26, 2012


3:50AM PST on Feb 26, 2012

Very good idea : show the anti-Gay's what it is like to be discriminated against!

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