"Oregon Person of the Year" may be a judge who declined to perform same-sex weddings

Dec 27, 2015, 17:42 ET from Korten Media LLC

SALEM, Ore., Dec. 27, 2015 /PRNewswire/ -- Earlier this month, Portland's Oregonian newspaper invited readers to vote for "the 2015 Oregon Person of the Year." When the ballots were counted on December 20, the field of candidates had been narrowed to ten. Near the top of the list was Circuit Court Judge Vance Day. According to his media spokesman, Patrick Korten of Korten Media LLC, the reason he's on the list was because he quietly declined to perform same-sex marriages. Oregonian readers have been voting online to select a winner from among the top ten, and the deadline is today, December 27.

Last month, the Oregon Commission on Fitness and Disability held two weeks of hearings on a complaint against Circuit Court Judge Vance Day.  Their principal charge was that he declined to perform same-sex-marriages.

Circuit judges in Oregon are not required to perform marriages at all.  After a federal court ruling in favor of same sex marriages several years ago, Judge Day asked his staff to politely refer any calls asking him to preside at such a marriage to other judges on the court, many of whom preside at such ceremonies. 

In June 2015 the Commission staff issued a complaint that by declining to perform same sex marriages, Judge Day had demonstrated "bias," and had violated the Oregon Constitution.

The charge is ironic, since that same Constitution contained an amendment approved by 57 percent of the state's voters in 2004: "It is the policy of Oregon, and its political subdivisions, that only a marriage between one man and one woman shall be valid or legally recognized as a marriage."  That was the constitutional law of Oregon when Judge Day was sworn into office in September 2011, and remained the law of the state until a federal judge declared it invalid in 2014.

In the span of a year and a half, Oregon has gone from banning same-sex marriages to an attempt to discipline a judge for declining to perform same sex weddings he was not required to perform in the first place.

An article in the Oregonian on October 9, 2015 described his views in detail. http://www.oregonlive.com/faith/2015/10/vance_day_profile.html

Whether or not he becomes the Oregonian's 2015 Person of the Year, he has the strong support of many in the state.

For additional information on the case, email patrick.korten@kortenmedia.com. A more detailed release is at kortenmedia.com/VanceDay.pdf

SOURCE Korten Media LLC