Texas is sending a message that they won’t be taking any “bull” from radical activists on our Supreme Court…
County clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday.
Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.
The formal opinion did not specify what constitutes a sincerely held religious belief, noting that “the strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”
Paxton said Friday’s “flawed” opinion from the U.S. Supreme Court, which overturned bans against same-sex marriage in Texas and other states, placed religious people in conflict between following their faith and the U.S. Constitution.
“Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live,” Paxton said.
Paxton’s opinion also noted that judges and justices of the peace can refuse to perform same-sex marriages.
“Judges and justices of the peace have no mandatory duty to conduct any wedding ceremony,” the opinion said, adding that couples cannot be refused on the basis of race, religion or national origin.
Advocates of gay marriage said Paxton’s directive amounted to government-sponsored discrimination. Austin lawyer Jody Scheske said Paxton’s opinion was legally and morally wrong.
“We settled the idea that public officials can pick which citizens to serve or not in the ’50s and ’60s civil rights litigation. They cannot,” Scheske said.
Formal attorney general opinions, which not binding but are considered legally persuasive, typically take six months to be issued.
Paxton’s marriage opinion was requested late Thursday by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, an ardent opponent of gay marriage who said he hoped to protect clerks who had religious objections to gay marriage.
In his opinion, Paxton said clerks with religious objections to gay marriage can delegate that duty, but employees’ religious objections also must be accommodated.
Clerks who refuse to issue marriage licenses to every couple, he added, could face two problems — a state law that says they “must” issue licenses to those who qualify, and courts that must weigh a same-sex couple’s newfound right to obtain a marriage license.
Paxton’s opinion was accompanied by sharply worded criticism of the Supreme Court’s 5-4 decision legalizing gay marriage.
“The reach of the court’s opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty,” Paxton said. “Our religious liberties find protection in state and federal constitutions and statutes. While they are indisputably our first freedom, we should not let them be our last.”