Same-sex? no problem for county magistrates

If district justices perform marriage ceremonies in the commonwealth, they are forbidden to discriminate against same-sex marriages.

Performing marriages isn’t a required duty for district justices, but many do it.

District Justice Glenn Carlson estimates that he marries, “at a bare minimum, 50 couples a year.”

He said that of four same-sex marriage ceremonies in Warren County, he has performed three.

“I don’t have a problem with it,” he said. “It’s a part of my job, no different than other parts. I think it would be difficult to discriminate. I know there is a lot of controversy in the state, but I don’t think I’m doing anything wrong. I don’t have any strong beliefs one way or the other.”

“All three were long-term committed relationships, from six years to 20 years. God bless them,” he said. “I’m comfortable with it.”

District Justice Laura Bauer said she hadn’t thought the issue through, and hasn’t done any same-sex weddings.

“I do maybe a dozen (weddings) in a year,” she said. “I’ve limited weddings because of family commitments on weekends.”

When asked about other judges, such as those in commonwealth courts, she said, “All judges are held to the same standards.”

Cynthia Lindemuth, district justice in Youngsville, said that in her 23 years on the job, she has done “300 some” weddings. She said she had one same-sex wedding scheduled in the past, but Carlson performed it because she had a conflicting family medical issue.

Lindemuth said she would have “no qualms” performing same-sex marriages.

“You have to be very careful that you don’t discriminate,” she added.

In other counties, it is a different story. In Lancaster County, at least three district justices have ceased performing weddings all together in response to the legalization of same-sex marriage in Pennsylvania, according to Lancaster newspapers.

Joshua Keller, who is based in Millersville, said he is fine with same-sex marriage being legal, but his personal convictions and religious beliefs prevent him from presiding over them.

He added, “Weddings aren’t always conducive to other court business.”