Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor confirmed that he is not making himself available to perform same-sex marriages, due to “philosophical and religious reasons.”
“I do not wish to perform same-sex marriages,” Tabor said.
Tabor served as a deputy prosecuting attorney in Thurston County for almost 19 years before being elected Thurston County Superior Court judge in 1996, according to his biography on the court’s website. He is a graduate of Oklahoma Christian College, which is now known as Oklahoma Christian University.
OCU’s website states that its members “strive to treat our bodies with the honor due the temple of the Holy Spirit — honoring God’s plan that sexual relations be a part of a marriage between a man and a woman, dressing modestly, and avoiding any self-destructive practices.”
Washington voters approved a same-sex marriage referendum in November, and the law took effect in December.
In a phone interview Monday, Tabor said he did not intend for his choice “to be a political or legal statement.” He added that a number of other judges in Thurston County have made themselves available to perform same-sex marriages. He added that he is not legally required to perform such marriages. Tabor said that, generally, he has made himself available in the past to perform marriages, and he has also declined to make himself available to perform certain marriages, in the Thurston County Jail, for example.
“I very much understand what the law is,” Tabor said, adding that if an issue arose, “I would do what the law requires.”
Kim Ridgway of Olympia, who married her longtime partner Kim Bliss in Thurston County Superior Court on Dec. 9, said Tuesday that Tabor is “entitled to his beliefs.”
“One person’s short-sightedness isn’t going to prevent same-sex couples from getting married,” she said. “It’s not going to take away from their joy and happiness.”
Ridgway said she and her partner were married by Thurston County Superior Court Judge James Dixon, who told the couple he was “honored” to perform one of the first same-sex marriages in the state.
“There are plenty of other justices who are just as happy to do it,” Ridgway added.