A Washington state judge has refused to marry gay and lesbian couples.

Couples began marrying on December 9 following the November 6 passage of Referendum 74, which upheld a gay marriage law approved by lawmakers. (County clerks began issuing marriage licenses on December 6. However, the state imposes a 3-day waiting period.)

According to Seattle Gay News (SGN), Thurston County Superior Court Judge Gary Tabor has notified court personnel that he will not officiate over the weddings of gay couples.

SGN reported that Tabor said that he would “not be comfortable” marrying gay couples during a December 5 meeting of judges and administrative staff.

A spokesperson for Presiding Judge H. Christopher Wickham told SGN that “this is just an availability issue, nothing more than that.”

“Judges take weddings as available,” Superior Court administrator Marti Maxwell said. “Some only do evenings, some only do weekends, some will even take out-of-county weddings. My boss [Wickham] says it's not county business, it's not court business – it's up to the judge.”

But while the state's marriage law includes exemptions for religious officials who oppose such unions, judges may not opt out of performing their duties.