Judge Parker, who was elected in November 2010, made the announcement during a February 21st, 2012 meeting of the Stonewall Democrats of Dallas (Parker herself is a Democrat). She explained that she's doing it to give the public a lesson about marriage inequality in this state. She thinks it's oxymoronic for her to perform ceremonies that can’t be performed for her.
In an attempt to stem backlash, Judge Parker issued the following statement on February 23rd:
I faithfully and fully perform all of my duties as the Presiding Judge of the 116th Civil District Court, where it is my honor to serve the citizens of Dallas County and the parties who have matters before the Court.
Performing marriage ceremonies is not a duty that I have as the Presiding Judge of a civil district court. It is a right and privilege invested in me under the Family Code. I choose not to exercise it, as many other Judges do not exercise it. Because it is not part of our duties, some Judges even charge a fee to perform the ceremonies.
I do not, and would never, impede any person’s right to get married. In fact, when people wander into my courtroom, usually while I am presiding over other matters, I direct them to the Judges in the courthouse who do perform marriage ceremonies. If my deputy is not busy, I will even ask him to escort or help these individuals find another Judge who performs the ceremonies. I do this because I believe in the right of people to marry and pursue happiness.
But even though she says performing marriages is not one of her formal duties, Judge Parker lies when she says she executes her duties faithfully. One of her duties is to uphold the law as it is written, and to perform her job without political bias. By publicly linking the performance of marriages with the gay marriage issue, she has cast her integrity and objectivity into doubt. She can no longer be trusted to rule fairly and impartially in other cases. She has issued a standing invitation to every defense attorney whose clients appear in her court to ask for Judge Parker to recuse herself because of a public record of bias.
KDAF Channel 33 documents some Dallas-area reaction. While GetEQUAL Texas Dallas area Coordinator Daniel Cates says he's "extraordinarily proud" of Judge Parker, Dallas Tea Party member Katrina Pierson thinks Judge Parker should leave Texas (but for God's sake, don't send her to Alaska). Public comments on NBC5 and WFAA show strong public disapproval of Judge Parker. Comments on the Dallas Voice are much more supportive of Judge Parker, but since the Dallas Voice is the area's "hippie" newspaper (like our Anchorage Press), it merely reflects their primary demographic.
Surprisingly, no other public officials have spoken out against Parker. In particular, where's the social conservative Governor Rick Perry on this? Why does he remain silent? Texas judges may be removed in one of four ways:
-- The state commission on judicial conduct investigates, and if warranted, prosecutes allegations of misconduct by Texas judges. Upon a commission recommendation of removal or retirement, the supreme court selects a review tribunal from among court of appeals judges to verify the findings and enter a judgment. Judges may appeal decisions of the review tribunal to the supreme court.
-- Judges may be removed by the governor on the address of two thirds of the house and senate.
-- Judges may be impeached by the house of representatives and removed by two thirds of the senate.
-- The supreme court may remove district court judges from office.