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Panel investigates Wyoming magistrate over gay marriages

Published:Friday | August 21, 2015 | 12:00 AM

CASPER, Wyoming (AP):

A state judicial panel is investigating a western Wyoming local magistrate who was quoted in a local newspaper saying she would not perform same-sex marriages.

Pinedale Municipal Judge Ruth Neely told the Sublette Examiner in a story published last December she would not marry gay couples because of her religious beliefs. She said there was at least one other magistrate in the area who could marry gay couples if necessary.

"When law and religion conflict, choices have to be made," she was quoted as saying in the story.

The story came less than three months after a federal judge in Casper struck down Wyoming's gay marriage ban last year.

The Wyoming Commission on Judicial Conduct and Ethics said in a statement that it has begun an investigation of Neely over six possible violations of judicial conduct, the Casper Star-Tribune reported.

"In response, Neely admitted she informed the reporter that solemnising same-sex marriages would violate her religious beliefs" but denied she violated judicial code, the commission statement said. She also raised "13 separate defences, primarily based on her constitutional rights," it said.