Sunday, February 26, 2012

Uncommon courage in unlikely places

I find the story of Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker to be extremely inspiring.

Out lesbian Dallas County Judge Tonya Parker touted her refusal to conduct marriage ceremonies in her courtroom on Tuesday night.

“I have the power, of course, to perform marriage ceremonies,” Parker said. “I don’t.”...

Parker is the first LGBT person elected judge in Dallas County and is believed to be the first openly LGBT African-American elected official in the state’s history. As such, Parker said she takes into account the importance of her position to make members of the LGBT community feel comfortable and equal in her courtroom by “going out of my way to do things that other people might not do because they are not who I am.”...

“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,” Parker said. “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.”

The first openly LGBT African American elected official in the state of Texas is a feat unto itself. But to use that position to take this kind of stand takes courage to a whole new level.

My hats off to you Judge Parker!

1 comment:

  1. Well I don’t know how I feel about this. What is the difference between what this judge is doing and what the Clerk of the town of Ledyard NY did after NYS passed its marriage equity law? http://www.nytimes.com/2011/09/28/nyregion/rights-clash-as-town-clerk-rejects-her-role-in-gay-marriages.html

    Belfort provided a way that citizens in her town’s area could still get a license –like Judge Parker provides a way that the folks in her area con still get married. NYS's Gov Cuomo of NYS said “When you enforce the laws of the state, you don’t get to pick and choose.” Two other NYS town clerks who felt the same way resigned. Is Judge Parker willing to resign?

    I think that she is much much more valuable as a sitting Judge. Better she should subject each heterosexual couple to a thorough & explicit commentary on the inequities of the Texas marriage Law as a part of their wedding ceremony each and every time she performs a marriage rather than taking the position she has.

    I hate to say this but it sounds as if she is getting ready to run for something –it certainly gives her national publicity.

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