September 24, 1992
Digest: A judge may participate in a private commitment ceremony between two persons of the same gender where it is not suggested that the ceremony is a marriage ceremony and the judge is participating in a personal non-judicial capacity.
Rules: 22 NYCRR 100.2.
A judge inquires if there is any ethical problem posed by the judge's participation in a private commitment ceremony between two unmarried people of the same sex to celebrate and acknowledge their domestic partnership relationship. The ceremony will not be held in a courthouse or religious facility, the judge will not wear a robe, no certificate or document will be prepared in conjunction with the ceremony and there will be no statement made suggesting that the ceremony will be recognized as a marriage.
Since the judge will not be participating in the ceremony in any judicial capacity nor exercising any judicially derived authority, and as the ceremony is a private one limited to family and friends of the parties involved, there does not appear to be any ethical problem that would prohibit the judge from participating in the ceremony, in a personal and non-judicial capacity.