Texas Judge issues form designed to insult gay citizens

Timothy Kincaid

July 13th, 2015

depiazzaJudge James R. DePiazza of Denton County, Texas, isn’t so fond of the gay. And he’s quite happy to let the world know his view.

But Judge DePiazza also wants to continue conducting civil marriage ceremonies and knows that if he conducts opposite-sex marriages that he also must allow same-sex couples the same rights.

So he’s come up with a solution. He’ll offer marriages to same-sex couples, but they have to sign a form that they understand that he is contemptuous towards them and they damn well better not talk to him about it or take any pictures with him in it.

The Supreme Court of the United States’ ruling on June 26, 2015 in Obergefell v. Hodges has legalized marriage in all 50 States regardless of gender. The result of this ruling has not changed Judge DePiazza’s personal convictions on marriage, but has changed the way he is now conducting ceremonies. Judge DePiazza will conduct a brief formal declaration of civil marriage ceremony. The ceremony will strictly be a witnessing to the individuals acknowledgement that they want to be married under the laws of this State and be bound to the marriage laws in the State of Texas. A declaration will be read by Judge DePiazza that both parties respond with affirmation.

Judge DePiazza prefers to NOT conduct same-sex ceremonies, but will not decline anyone who chooses to schedule with him.

Obviously this isn’t legal. And surely this judge knows that he’s asking for a lawsuit in federal court, where his chances are zero. Even in Texas.

So I think it’s really just Judge James R. DePiazza being an asshole.

Ben in oakland

July 13th, 2015

I don’t see how it would be illegal for him to use this form, if he gave it to both straight and gay couples. If he doesn’t, for sure he is asking for a lawsuit. Could you do me the favor of explaining it to me?

On the other hand, he is most sincerely showing that he is a real dick – and I don’t mean that as a compliment. ( you called him an asshole. I called him a dick. Does that mean you can get gay married to himself? ) I’m sure some heterosexual couples will agree with him, he but I’m also sure that a lot of heterosexuals would read that, and think that maybe a different judge would be a more pleasant experience.

What I really loved about it was the “no photos” thing, being a professional wedding photographer, and his repeated emphasis on “you’d better be sure you give me my money.”

I’m assuming he is paid a decent salary as a judge, and that these hundred dollar bills are just gratuitous….erm gratuities.

Timothy Kincaid

July 13th, 2015

Ben, for the same reason he couldn’t issue the same form segregating any other group for distain.

Replace “same-sex” with “mixed-race” or “Catholic” or “Mexican” and you can see pretty quickly that it’s a civil rights violation.


July 14th, 2015

Exercise you free speech rights by signing the document with the words “I hereby acknowledge the judge to be a bigot and quite possibly mentally ill also” and then photoshop him into your wedding photos in the most ridiculous way imaginable before putting both them and a copy of the document on Facebook where you encourage others, including straight allies, to to the same. See how he likes that when the idea takes off.

Eric M

July 14th, 2015

I like that suggestion, Ivan. I’d add something like “we prefer NOT to consider Mr. De Piazza fit for the judiciary, but we will allow him to consider himself as such for the purposes of this ceremony provided he not discuss any legal matters or philosophies with us or any witness before during our after the ceremony.”

L. C. Burgundy

July 14th, 2015


But every couple has to sign the same form, it looks like? This guy is very obviously a jerk, but I’m not seeing the legal violation either, unless it’s illegal for someone to say they’d prefer not to conduct a same-sex marriage. Even if he said “I’d prefer not to conduct marriages between Mexicans” I’m not entirely sure that would be illegal either.

Timothy Kincaid

July 14th, 2015


As a private citizen, he could say either. But as a judge, he cannot abridge the civil rights of the citizenry.

Refusing to conduct marriages between same-sex couples (or Mexican Americans) would be a clear civil rights violation. To force citizens to sign their acknowledgement that the justice of the peace of Denton County disapproves of them would also, I believe, be a civil rights violation.

That all parties have to sign is irrelevant as it really only impacts certain citizens (remember Scalia’s famous statement that a tax on yarmulkes is a tax on Jews).

L. C. Burgundy

July 14th, 2015

To force citizens to sign their acknowledgement that the justice of the peace of Denton County disapproves of them would also, I believe, be a civil rights violation.

But he’s willing to perform the marriage regardless. I’m just not sure what judicial relief you’re going to be able to get here that won’t be prior restraint on his speech. I don’t think a judge will order him not to speak his mind on the topic. Maybe the form itself is impermissible (that would be a question down in the weeds).

Eric Payne

July 15th, 2015

@LC Burgundy, you say:

I don’t think a judge will order him not to speak his mind on the topic. Maybe the form itself is impermissible (that would be a question down in the weeds).

The state requires certain paperwork and procedures to be followed for a marriage license to be formally recognized by the state.

A formalized recognition of this individual judge’s personal opinion is not one of the pieces of paperwork required.

This individual judge is forcing his will into the process of having a validly issued marriage license solemnized in his jurisdiction.

Yeah, I’d ay the form, itself, is impermissable.

Ben in Oakland

July 15th, 2015

good explanation, eric.

Priya Lynn

July 15th, 2015

“But he’s willing to perform the marriage regardless. I’m just not sure what judicial relief you’re going to be able to get here that won’t be prior restraint on his speech.”

I don’t think you have the same free speech rights as an employee as you do as a citizen on your own time.

John K.

July 15th, 2015

Several years ago I was asked by friends to witness their (same-sex) civil union in Illinois. The ceremony was held at the Cook County Courthouse in Rolling Meadows, IL on a Saturday. I checked upon arrival whether photographs were allowed, and was told “yes”.

Each couple that morning registered and was called in turn to the courtroom for their ceremony. As we entered, the officiant gruffly said “no photos in the courtroom”. We put away our cameras. As a friend of the couple, it was not my place to object, but had it been my civil union I would have walked out and filed a complaint.

In a subsequent same-sex civil union in the same courtroom a couple of years later I again checked both at registration and with the officiant in the courtroom. We were invited to take as many pictures as we wanted from wherever in the room that we wished.

This was the same civil process at the same place, but clearly one of the paid civil servant officiants was making it clear that the couple’s money was good but their lives were not.

Paul Douglas

July 16th, 2015

Anyone wanna bet if he’s a christianist or not?

Ben M

July 16th, 2015

Justice of the Peace in Texas is an elected post, and he is not an ’employee,’ having ultimate authority over his or her office (including hiring and firing employees, etc), total control over his budget and such. Basically, they are the chief magistrates for their county/district, with both administrative and judicial responsibilities.

Not sure how this will impact the legality of his document, but he can’t be fired, only removed from office.


July 17th, 2015

So weird this is happening in Denton, which is a university town and the center of Texas vegans. JP court in Texas is pretty much a joke, but they do have authority over most class C misdemeanors and also evictions.

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