Texas’ gay marriage battle is just warming up due to the announcement by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, but although a Denton County marriage was denied this past Friday, already the county clerk has switched directions, despite assurances of legal protection by the Texas AG.
In related report by the Inquisitr, when County Clerk Juli Luke had a Denton County marriage denied for a gay couple, many in the LGBT community were outraged, since this action seemed to defy the Supreme Court’s gay marriage ruling released earlier in the week. The reasons Luke gave for the denial also changed over time, with one statement noting how Texas’ gay marriage laws now contradict federal laws, while another blamed computer issues.
Over the weekend, the issue of Texas’ gay marriage laws was also broached by Texas AG Ken Paxton, who claimed that county clerks, such as Luke, could refuse to give same-sex marriage licenses on the basis of religious freedom. Lt. Governor Dan Patrick agreed with Paxton, saying, “No public employees, judge or justice of the peace should be forced to participate in activity contrary to the covenants of their sincerely held beliefs.”
Although Denton County Clerk Luke does state that she disagrees with homosexuality, she also believes she cannot allow her personal beliefs to prevent her from fulfilling her duties as a public official.
“Same-sex marriage is in contradiction to my faith and belief that marriage is between one man and one woman,” said the Denton County Clerk in a statement, according to the Denton Record-Chronicle. “However, first and foremost, I took an oath on my family bible to uphold the law as an elected public official. My personal belief cannot prevent me from issuing the licenses as required.”
The first of Denton County’s gay marriage licenses was given to Whitney Henner and Sara Bollinger. It turns out the lesbian couple had come to Denton County because that is where their family is located.
“We have our roots here. And for us it didn’t feel right to go to another state and cross the border and then not have it be recognized,” Hennen said, according to NBC. “We wanted to be married right where we live, around our families and our friends.”
Although Denton County has reversed course, the debate over Texas’ gay marriage laws is not over. Texas AG Ken Paxton 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.”
What do you think about Ken Paxton’s announcement regarding Texas’ gay marriage licenses?
[Image via Blue Nation Review]