Two days after the Supreme Court ruled that the Constitution requires states to license and recognize the marriages of same-sex couples, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a confusing memo suggesting that in some circumstances, county clerks or their employees with religious objections to marriage equality could withhold marriage licenses from same-sex couples.
We now have more insight into what may have motivated him to react so quickly: pressure from religious conservatives to resist the Supreme Court’s marriage decision. From the Dallas Morning News:
Oh, and they also used “queer” as a verb:
Paxton did not go as far as these correspondents proposed. But his advisory memo did incorrectly suggest that county clerks or their employees could use religion as a reason turn away same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses, and introduced confusion at a time when his office should have been helping government officials comply with the Supreme Court’s decision.
His misguided memo also kept our lawyers busy: in response, Americans United’s legal department wrote to every county clerk in Texas, reminding them that they had no free exercise right to turn away same-sex couples or otherwise treat them differently than any other couple seeking to get married. We’re continuing to monitor the situation, and if you or someone you know is discriminated against by a county clerk’s office, we may be able to help.