Two Harris County justices of the peace have resumed officiating weddings this week after a brief hiatus in the wake of the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark ruling on marriage equality.
Judges Russ Ridgway and Jeff Williams stopped marrying couples after the high court on June 26 legalized same-sex marriage nationwide, striking down the remaining bans in Texas and a dozen other states.
These two judges, who preside in the western outposts of the county, were among three of 16 sitting Harris County justices of the peace who opted to take down their shingles for weddings last summer. The third judge, Laryssa Korduba, a Republican who serves out of Humble, has remained off duty with respect to weddings, her staff said this week.
None of the three judges responded to multiple requests for comment on their rationale.
However, Judge Mike Parrott, a fellow justice of the peace, said Korduba told the other JPs she did not wish to marry same-sex couples, but Parrott never heard an explanation from Ridgway or Williams. Given heavy foot traffic in their offices and the number of walk-in requests they would have received, Parrott found it notable that his colleagues would pass on the income they would have earned.
“It really surprised me about Russ (Ridgway) and (Jeff) Williams,” Parrott said. “That’s a big population out there. Maybe they don’t need the money.”
Parrott said he understood the likely reason they changed their minds after a short moratorium. “I got a feeling it’s extra income.”
JPs in busy courts might do as many as 10 weddings a day and up to 20 or so on Valentine’s Day, Parrott said.
See here for the background. JPs are paid between $50 and $400 to perform a wedding, so that would be a significant piece of income to give up for one’s principles. Which, to be clear, is 100% their right and which I support. JPs are allowed to perform weddings but don’t have to, and as long as they’re consistent and not picking and choosing, it’s all good. Happy marrying, y’all.