Ken Paxton: Texas’ Gay Marriage Licenses Can Be Denied Over Religious Freedom Laws

According to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Texas’ gay marriage licenses can be refused by county clerks on the basis of religious beliefs. A county in Texas has already denied a gay marriage license even after SCOTUS announced its decision, and it is possible that many government employees in Texas may follow suit following the announcement of the Texas AG.

In a related report by the Inquisitr, both Allen West and Austin City Council Member Don Zimmerman claim that the legal logic defined by the Supreme Court could lead to pedophile rights becoming the next big equality issue after homosexuality.

Reports claim that Denton County denied the marriage applications of two gay couples because the county clerk needed to receive legal guidance from the district attorney’s office in Texas before issuing any marriage licenses. Dianne Edmondson, Denton County Republican Party chairwoman, claimed earlier in the week that the fight over gay marriage has become a fight over states rights.

“[Just Roberts] warns that the Court goes beyond its role as a neutral arbiter and that we have lost the right to govern ourselves,” said Edmondson. “After all, only 11 states actually voted by the people or their elected officials to allow gay marriages and the other two dozen have had gay marriage forced upon them by judicial fiat.”

Based upon the statement released by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, the fight over Texas’ gay marriage licenses is also about the rights related to religious beliefs.

“Importantly, the reach of the Court’s opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty. Even the flawed majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges acknowledged there are religious liberty protections of which individuals may be able to avail themselves. 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.”

Paxton’s office claims “the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist.” At the same time, it is claimed that the “newly invented federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage should peaceably coexist alongside longstanding constitutional and statutory rights, including the rights to free exercise of religion and speech.” As such, the Texas Attorney General claims the law and the U.S. Constitution provides protection for those who object to same-sex marriage.

  • “County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.
  • “Justices of the peace and judges similarly retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection, because it is not the least restrictive means of the government ensuring the ceremonies occur. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

In finishing this opinion, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton also noted that any county clerk who refuses a gay marriage license may be sued. If a lawsuit does occur, the Texas AG claims that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis.”

What do you think about Ken Paxton’s announcement regarding Texas’ gay marriage licenses?

[Image via Metro Weekly]