Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton declared on Sunday that the U.S. Supreme Court ruling which outlaws the ban on gay marriage doesn’t refuse the right of county clerks who oppose it to reject the issuing of marriage licenses towards them.
In a press statement, Paxton said that the decisions left hundreds of Texas public officials unwary of how to implement the decision, asking for more detailed guidelines and also calling the ruling flawed and lawless. He stated that the ruling cannot override the First Amendment’s religious freedom rights, which theoretically offers clerks the right to refuse same-sex couples marriage license based on religious objections.
Paxton also derided the ruling as an attempt to fabricate a constitutional right but said that beyond that discussion, the government cannot force one groups’ freedom over another if that compromises the latter’s rights. He added that clerks who do choose to refuse issuing marriage licenses for the moment might be sued, but pledged to offer them ample legal support.
“Numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights,” Paxton wrote in the press release.
A similar problem had found its compromise in the state of Utah where, upon adopting an LGBT rights legislation which was negotiated with local religious organizations, clerks have the right to refuse officiating same-sex marriage, but each county always guarantees a reserve clerk which will not object to it and can be called up in such situations.
Paxter’s reaction is not out of line with the general mood in America’s largest state, as an evangelical petition circulating there since March against the legalization of same-sex marriage reached more than 50,000 signatures and many evangelicals threatened with public disobedience if they were forced to offer any accommodation for gay marriage.
The Supreme Court’s historic ruling on Friday on the Obergefell v Hodges case saw it declare marriage as a constitutional freedom regardless of sexual orientation, which can not be impeded by any type of state or local law. This effectively ended the ban on gay marriage in thirteen US states which still had it in place, with Texas being the largest of them. While the decision was met mainly with applause nationwide and even around the world, reactions in the affected state were mostly negative outside of established LGBT communities.
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