We were wondering why a 2012 story about Judge Tonya Parker has been the most read story on Dallas voice this week. Then we saw this ridiculous meme.
After her election to office, Parker decided that if she couldn’t marry everyone, she wouldn’t marry anyone. Since the uproar over same-sex marriage licenses and religious beliefs, the right wing has glommed onto that story again and has been trying to compare Parker to Kim Davis, the Kentucky county clerk who not only won’t issue marriage licenses, but won’t allow anyone else in her office to issue them.
Here’s the difference and why the meme is dead wrong.
Tonya Parker was elected to be a judge of the 116th Civil District Court. That court hears cases involving civil rather than criminal or family matters in which damages involved are more than $200. As a perk of her office, Parker may perform marriages. Performing marriage is not a duty of her office. She was elected to hear civil cases in her court.
While many judges perform marriages, some don’t. Some impose restrictions, which must be applied equally. A judge can’t decide not to perform weddings for someone based on their race or religion. A judge may no longer decide to perform weddings for straight people but not for gay people.
In Dallas County, one judge will only perform weddings for a couple dressed appropriately. He wants to make sure they’re taking their marriage seriously.
No judge would postpone court in order to perform weddings. On marriage equality day, Judge Dennise Garcia spent the first day of her vacation in her court so she could perform weddings while other judges were taking care of business in their courts.
Kim Davis, however, was elected to issue vital documents. That’s what a county clerk does. Kentucky law doesn’t say she may issue marriage licenses. Kentucky law says that’s what a county clerk does. She doesn’t get to issue them as a perk or if she decides to issue them. To refuse is refusing to do her job.
To compare Parker, who has always done her job, with Davis, who has refused to do her job, is twisting facts to continue this ridiculous idea that she’s being persecuted because of her religion. Actually, Davis is imposing her religion on everyone else and forcing others in her office to follow her religion.
Parker never suggested another judge or justice of the peace should refuse to perform weddings. She never suggested Dallas County Clerk John Warren shouldn’t do his job and refuse to issue marriage licenses or issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples before it was legal. Instead, she always followed the law.
Davis has violated Kentucky law, refused to follow the order of a federal judge, refused to follow a Supreme Court ruling and after release from jail on contempt charges, threatened to violate the law again.