I may not agree with your beliefs, but I will defend to the death my right to ridicule them. Welcome to “This Week In Crazy,” The National Memo’s weekly update on the wildest attacks, conspiracy theories, and other loony behavior from the increasingly unhinged right wing. Starting with number five:
5. Judge James DePiazza
Now that marriage equality is the law of the land, there’s been a stampede of magistrates, clerks, and judges seeking ways to avoid fulfilling their sworn duties — whether its by opting out of performing marriages altogether or invoking religious freedom protections.
Judge James DePiazza of Denton County, Texas, found a simpler solution: He asked gay couples to sign an acknowledgement that he doesn’t believe in their right to marriage before he would marry them.
In an interview with The New Civil Rights Movement, DePiazza expressed confusion as to why this move was controversial: It appeared to the judge the simplest way to balance his religious beliefs with the new law.
“It’s to let them know where I stand. I would want to know that if I was getting married,” he told the Houston Chronicle. “There are some couples of the same sex who don’t want to be married by someone who doesn’t believe in same-sex marriage.”
The Chronicle reported that the form all gay couples had to sign read as follows:
Judge DePiazza prefers to NOT conduct same-sex ceremonies, but will not decline anyone who chooses to schedule with him. While we may not necessarily agree with, we acknowledge Judge DePiazza’s position that he prefers not to conduct same-sex marriages and agree not to address the topic of same-sex marriages with Judge DePiazza before, during or after the ceremony.
The form on the Denton County Courthouse website, which NCRM and the Chronicle both link to, no longer includes this language. It does seem to state that the judge will require a verbal affirmation of an unspecified declaration: “A civil declaration will be read by Judge DePiazza that both parties respond with affirmation.”
The form further clarifies that the paperwork required and ceremony performed for same-sex couples are exactly the same as for opposite-sex couples.
DePiazza has recorded a new voicemail message for his chambers’ phone line, stating that his “intention is not consistent” with what has been reported in the media. With apparent remorse, he offered his sincere apologies to anyone who was offended, claiming that he had acted in good faith and meant the new policies to be a courtesy, in order to make gay couples aware of his stance and to give them the option to be married by someone else.
Well, now I feel just terrible including him on this page. Because of all the public officials opposed to marriage equality, rattling their religious-liberty sabers and vowing to stand in righteous opposition against Obergefell from this day till Doomsday… it is possible Judge DePiazza may just be the sanest, most conscientious of them all. Which itself is kind of scary.