'Sexual orientation' clause draws judge's ire

By Jay F. Marks Modified: June 4, 2008 at 1:16 am •  Published: June 4, 2008
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/> He noted Oklahoma voters overwhelmingly voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2004.

"Obviously the people of Oklahoma do not subscribe to the homosexual agenda,” the judge wrote.

Graves, who spent 24 years as a state lawmaker before being elected to the bench in November 2006, declined to discuss his complaints about the proposed code of conduct for judges with The Oklahoman.

The national lawyers group provided the model for Oklahoma's revised code of conduct for judges, said John Morris Williams, executive director of the Oklahoma Bar Association.

"Certainly, it's not the finished product,” Williams said. "It could change dramatically.”

Any changes to Oklahoma's conduct rules for judges must be approved by the Oklahoma Supreme Court, which passed the original code of conduct in 1974.

Williams acknowledged the proposal has drawn some complaints, with some critics invited to testify before the committee.

Attorney Kevin Calvey, a former state representative, said he spoke to the committee in April about what he termed a First Amendment issue.

He called the new anti-discrimination measure "by far the worst public policy proposal I've ever seen.”

The proposal could be interpreted to include groups like the Boy Scouts, American Legion or Knights of Columbus, Calvey said. Such a rule might dissuade qualified candidates from becoming judges or cause them to avoid certain groups.

Oklahoma City University law professor Paula Dalley said the proposal could be problematic under the First Amendment, but it appears any issues would be considered on a case-by-case basis.

Calvey said the bar committee seemed receptive to his comments.

Read the letter Proposed code of judicial conduct for Oklahoma



Model code
•The American Bar Association adopted its model code of judicial conduct in February 2007, but no states have approved a revised code. Oklahoma is one of only seven states to complete a report based on that model.

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