Can Texas Clerks Refuse To Marry Gay Couples Based On Religious Beliefs?

Lawmakers in Texas have found a loophole in issuing marriage licenses to gay and lesbian couples, the Houston Chronicle reports.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton told county clerks on Sunday they would be allowed to refuse licenses to same-sex couples if it conflicted with their religious beliefs. Paxton says the rule will apply to deputies of county clerks, who issue licenses, and others who can perform marriages, such as ministers.

If you recall, the Supreme Court ruled Friday that all 50 states can now marry same-sex couples.

“So long as other authorized individuals are willing to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies, these statutory provisions demonstrate the practical reality that a refusal by a religiously objecting justice of the peace or judge cannot prevent a same-sex couple from participating in a wedding ceremony contemplated by state law,” wrote Paxton.

Clerks and ministers who were present in the courthouse Friday had a separate attitude than Paxton. While the Attorney General tried to stall many marriages from happening, clerks told reporters they were ready to marry the people – regardless of the alleged hold-up for proper paperwork.

Calling the SCOTUS ruling a flawed decision, Paxton says a clerk’s religious freedom should be defended in issuing marriage licenses.

Clerks, however, will face litigation if they do refuse to marry a couple.

“It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face a fine,” Paxton said. “But, 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 hasn’t addressed his controversial statements since Sunday, but continues to believe that a state employee’s religion should be protected by the court.

SOURCE: Houston Chronicle | VIDEO CREDIT: NDN


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