Texas Marriage Equality Opponents Warn Against "Queering" Of Country

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:

Houston physician and GOP activist Steve Hotze and Midland energy executive Tim Dunn urged the state’s top lawyer to resist the court’s landmark declaration that gay marriage is a 50-state constitutional right — or at least provide legal defense for other resisters.

“Greetings in the name of Christ our King!” Hotze wrote Paxton about two hours after the court ruled on June 26.

“Do what the Louisiana AG has done,” Hotze said in an email, urging Paxton to emulate that state’s Republican attorney general who said Louisiana didn’t have to comply because there was no specific line in the court ruling saying so.

Oh, and they also used “queer” as a verb:

The illegitimate SCOTUS ruling does not name Texas, so fight those lousy bastards,” said Hotze, president of Conservative Republicans of Texas, a group influential in Harris County GOP primaries. “They hate God and want to let the Sodomites queer our country.”

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.