Texas AG: Govt. Officials Can Discriminate on Marriage

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has issued an order telling local government officials that they can refuse to issue marriage licenses if they have a religious objection to doing so despite the Supreme Court’s ruling on Friday. Welcome to the next legal battle in the war for equality.

County clerks in Texas who object to gay marriage can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite last week’s landmark U.S. Supreme Court ruling requiring states to allow same-sex marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said on Sunday…

Paxton said in a statement that hundreds of public officials in Texas were seeking guidance on how to implement what he called a lawless and flawed decision by an “activist” court.

The state’s attorney general said that while the Supreme Court justices had “fabricated” a new constitutional right, they did not diminish, overrule, or call into question the First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion.

“County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” Paxton wrote, adding that the strength of any such claim would depend on the 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,” Paxton wrote…

“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 wrote.

So if a clerk decides that they don’t think women should drive because of their religious beliefs, Paxton will provide free representation for them too, right? And if a clerk objects to interracial marriage and refuses to issue a license to an interracial couple, same deal, right? After all, that would be “defending their religious beliefs,” right? Or does this position apply only to gay couples for some unstated reason?

This is going to be the next big phase of the struggle for marriage equality. North Carolina has already passed a law allowing clerks to refuse to do the same thing and other states are considering it. Lawsuits will inevitably follow and the bigots are not going to win them. As a government employee on the job, they are the government and that means they don’t get to pick and choose which legal services will be offered to which residents.

I suspect Paxton knows this, but he doesn’t care. He’s aiming for higher office and this is the perfect way to pander to those he needs to pander to in order to run for higher office later.

Follow Us!
POPULAR AT PATHEOS Nonreligious
What Are Your Thoughts?leave a comment
  • StevoR

    He’s (Paxton) aiming for higher office and this is the perfect way to pander to those he needs to pander to in order to run for higher office later.

    Problem for Paxton is that the majority already disagree with Paxton and the other homophobes here and that percentage just keeps rising. “Later” very soon will mean that he just looks really historically totally wrong, the same as the interracial marriage opponents back then do now and even the present Xn bigots will probably soon be trying to pretend they were for equal marriage all along. So far from helping his career it’ll likely prove a dark embarrassing stain on it instead much like piss down the legs of a white suit and about as appealing for future voters!

  • http://Www.metalmischief.com YOB – Ye Olde Blacksmith (Social Justice Support Person)

    I’m gonna have to go become a clerk here in Texas.

    Of course, my deeply held religious belief that a woman may not get married without a notarized statement from their fathers approving said marriage and a receipt for the dowry to the groom will not really come up in the interview.

    Lesbian marriages? Two statements and two receipts!

    Adam and Steve? *rubberstamp*

  • D. C. Sessions

    I suspect he hasn’t really thought through the Rule 11 sanctions he’s volunteering to take for the team.

  • Chiroptera

    So if a clerk decides that they don’t think women should drive because of their religious beliefs, Paxton will provide free representation for them too, right?

    According to Chief Justice Roberts, that would be totally different because forbidding women to drive would change the Core Definition of Automobiles. Or something.

    (If I were Chief Justice Roberts, I would try to insert the phrase “Core Definition of Automobiles” as many times as I could into this comment.)

  • John Pieret

    This report states that out of all 254 Texas county clerks’ offices, 114 were ready and willing to issue same-sex marriage licenses yesterday.

    http://www.dallasnews.com/news/state/headlines/20150629-interactive-map-how-texas-counties-are-handling-same-sex-marriage-licenses.ece

    Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, who asked for Paxton’s opinion, softened it somewhat saying:

    “The issue is we will follow the law, but we’re not going to force people to do something against their faith,” said Patrick. “There will be someone else in that department who can do that job.”

  • theDukedog7 .

    I presume that the ag’s order is based on the constitutional right to free exercise of religion, which is held by clerks as well as everyone else. An unlawful decision by 5 rogue criminals employed at the supreme court does not nullify the basic real constitutional rights of Americans.

    There is the real Constitution, which guarantees free exercise of religion, and there is the fake constitution of thugs, morons and felons that has a pretend “right” to SSM hidden somewhere no one can see (like the “right to abortion” or the “separation of church and state”.)

    Bravo the resistors, who are defending the actual Constitution.

  • John Pieret

    About half the counties in Alabama are issuing SSM licenses:

    http://www.timesfreepress.com/news/local/story/2015/jun/29/some-alabama-counties-give-gay-marriage-licenses-others-refuse/312161/

    There is going to be foot dragging but I suspect most will come around and only a few, if any, will need direct orders or actual sanctions.

  • Chris J

    I thought nobody gave a f**k about same-sex marriage? If so, why do these clerks care if the marriage license they hand out goes to a straight couple or a gay couple? What a puzzle…

  • John Pieret

    Egnore:

    the constitutional right to free exercise of religion, which is held by clerks as well as everyone else

    So a Protestant clerk can deny a marriage license to a Catholic couple because she sincerely believes the so-called “Catholic Church” is, in fact the Whore of Babylon and cannot perform valid marriages?

  • dingojack

    Really Lil Dookie what law are they breaking, specifically?

    (OBTW as an agent of the government you don’t have the right to ‘free exercise of religion’, no matter how sincerely one believes or not. It’s a consequence of the First Amendment, perhaps you’ve vaguely heard of it?)

    Dingo

  • theDukedog7 .

    @9:

    Free Exercise, asshole.

    If monogamous sodomy is constitutionally-protected marriage, dissing the Whore of Babylon is Free Exercise.

    What are you, a bigot?

  • Doug Little

    Now I really think Egnore is just trolling us. No one who supposedly has an education could be that stupid when it comes to the constitution and the first amendment.

  • John Pieret

    If monogamous sodomy is constitutionally-protected marriage, dissing the Whore of Babylon is Free Exercise.

    Sure, the clerk can say it (but not on the job) and believe it, but can she refuse to do her job based on it? That’s what you are claiming she could do, because of her Free Exercise rights. to gay people.

    What are you, a bigot?

    Nope but that’s what the people who won’t give out a piece of paper they are required to process just because it is to icky gays.

  • D. C. Sessions

    I really do have to admire Egnore’s consistency here. Not many people are prepared to stand up for the right of Muslim officials in the United States to execute blasphemers against the Prophet who come before them.

  • dingojack

    “Freedom of religion means freedom to hold an opinion or belief, but not to take action in violation of social duties or subversive to good order…” In Reynolds v. United States (1878)

    Dingo

  • sigurd jorsalfar

    So if a clerk decides that they don’t think women should drive because of their religious beliefs, Paxton will provide free representation for them too, right? And if a clerk objects to interracial marriage and refuses to issue a license to an interracial couple, same deal, right? After all, that would be “defending their religious beliefs,” right?

    And don’t forget divorced people, Ed.

    Hey I’m using that killfile add on thingee re dukedog. Best thing since noise cancelling headphones.

  • theDukedog7 .

    @15:

    Dingo, are you really that stupid? You quoted Reynolds as a precedent for your denial of free exercise?

    Reynolds, moron, was the decision that prohibited polygamy. It is a decision that will be overturned in short order, based on Kennedy’s reasoning on SSM. You can’t deny heterosexual groups the “right” to marry after you affirm that monogamous sodomy is constitutionally-protected marriage.

    Reynolds is going down in flames, asshole. Pick another decision to buttress your imbecilic meanderings.

  • theDukedog7 .

    I repeat:

    If monogamous sodomy is constitutionally-protected marriage, any fucking thing I or any protestant or any muslim want to do is free exercise of religion.

  • dingojack

    Really Lil Dookie when do you think that’s gonna happen? Next week, next month, next year? When? Are you really that foolish (he asks rhetorically)?

    This principle wouldn’t be overturned, just the outcome (maybe, possibly) …

    But you’ve got a wealth of con law to back your postion up, right Lil Dookie?

    Enough Rope remember, Enough Rope.

    Feel it tightening round your neck…

    :) Dingo

  • Chris J

    Erm, theDukedog, you do know that “marriage” is not equivalent to any sex acts that might be performed by a married couple, right? “Monogamous sodomy” has been constitutionally protected at least since Lawrence v. Texas, and it doesn’t only happen between same sex couples.

    But anyway, that’s a tangent. What’s important is you explaining exactly how it is that a court ruling that same-sex-marriage bans are unconstitutional has anything to do with how “free exercise of religion” is defined. Not all same-sex couples are even religious, and “marriage” as handled by the SCOTUS case is not religious (it’s governmental), so where does religion even enter in?

  • John Pieret

    If monogamous sodomy is constitutionally-protected marriage, any fucking thing I or any protestant or any muslim want to do is free exercise of religion.

    Really? Anything? Assassinate the President of the US? Or how about assassinating the Pope the next time he comes to the US or wiping out the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops?

    I’m really interested to see how far you will go in making a complete fool of yourself. I’d ask what your reasoning is in claiming those things are somehow permitted now under the Free Exercise clause because the 14th Amendment was applied to state and Federal laws that gave benefits and privileges of opposite-sex couples but not to same-sex couples … but reasoning, instead of just shouting assertions, has never been your strong suit.

  • theDukedog7 .

    @Chris J:

    [“Monogamous sodomy” has been constitutionally protected at least since Lawrence v. Texas,]

    Lawrence only found a magical constitutional right to sodomy (in the rear of the constitution, presumably).

    Monogamy in sodomy only became constitutionally protected “marriage” in Obergefell.

    Justice arrives like a series of thunderbolts.

  • Doc Bill

    What AG Paxton actually said was that clerks etc could refuse to issue marriage licenses but be liable to being sued and fined, and that the clerks had to be prepared for that outcome. Furthermore, Paxton did not offer pro bono legal defense, rather it was limited to advice and support. Thus, it was a dare, like a Dover Trap.

  • llewelly

    theDukedog7:

    If monogamous sodomy is constitutionally-protected marriage, any fucking thing I or any protestant or any muslim want to do is free exercise of religion.

    And we will defend your newfound religion of fucking all the things, provided it is consensual.

    I doubt you are into dogs or kids, so I am not worried.

  • theDukedog7 .

    @21 fake lawyer:

    If monogamous sodomy is marriage and “established by the states” means “not established by the states”, any fucking thing you can think of is free exercise.

    Constitutional rights are everywhere and pop up new like herpes. Look–there’s one now!

    It’s Kennedy’s world–we just live in it.

  • tfkreference

    …must…resist…replying…to…dukey…

    Separation of powers is another thing that wingnuts seem to have a problem with. I once spent an afternoon arguing with a Social Security official about my father-in-law’s account. Ms. _______ seemed to feel that it was her job to punish him for an old misdeed, despite a legal decision clearing his record (her sneer when I said, “innocent until proven guilty” was priceless). I stuck to the facts and did not yield to her arguments from authority. Just before closing time, her supervisor dismissed the case “for the common good.”

  • http://Www.metalmischief.com YOB – Ye Olde Blacksmith (Social Justice Support Person)

    Hehehehe DukeDog reminds me of my Pomeranian. Say a few trigger words (“treat”, “outside”, “go”, “bath” ) in front of her and she starts yapping and jumping in the air regardless of the context of the words or wether they were addressed to her or not.

    Henceforth “TheDukeDog7” shall now be “MyPomeranian”.

  • zenlike

    theDukedog7, you have shown yourself in this thread truly as the bigoted piece of filth that you truly are. You are not against SMM, you hate LGBT people with all you heart, and you have apparently no problem showing it.

    Go away, hateful bigot.

  • John Pieret

    If monogamous sodomy is marriage and “established by the states” means “not established by the states”, any fucking thing you can think of is free exercise.

    Sure, if you bother to take a case to court, go through all the lower courts and get the Supreme Court to hear it and convince at least 5 justices to agree. That how corporations got the constitutional right to spend unlimited money on political campaigns despite there not be a word about corporations or campaign spending in the Constitution.

    It’s only how we’ve been doing constitutional law in the US since the beginning and the British long before us.

    Constitutional rights are everywhere and pop up new like herpes. Look–there’s one now!

    Oh, look! Hobby Lobby!

  • http://artk.typepad.com ArtK

    Lawrence only found a magical constitutional right to sodomy (in the rear of the constitution, presumably).

    Nope, the right was always there (c.f. Ninth Amendment); Lawrence only recognized that right. Some thing with Obergefell — the right has always existed, but hasn’t been judicially recognized by SCOTUS before this.

    I know, that Ninth Amendment is such a pain. It grants rights you like (e.g. Hobby Lobby or Citizens United) but it also grants rights that you don’t like.

  • Doug Little

    You can’t deny heterosexual groups the “right” to marry

    Of course you can, if the state can show a compelling reason why. What you are forgetting in Obergefell is that the state failed to meet this test. Their arguments were piss poor.

  • ‘smee

    I’ve decided that actually responding to the egnorator is a waste of my time… he just says the same old shit anyway. SO as a public service I shall simply monitor threads for his presence and respond thusly:

    Dukedog aka Egnorator aka fuckwit extrodinaire is a vile racist fuck.

  • Taz

    theDukedog7 @6 –

    Bravo the resistors, who are defending the actual Constitution.

    What about the capacitors?

  • Doug Little

    Furthermore it’s not like the court is stacked with liberals or anything. Last time I checked conservatives have appointed the majority. How quickly the conservatives turn on each other when brand purity comes into question. Roberts one week Kennedy the next.

  • http://www.thelosersleague.com theschwa

    Duke is right! “Free exercise” is license to do anything you want, so long as you say those magic words. Look at 9-11. They blew up the WTC because of their free exercise of religion. 14 years later and Obama STILL has not prosecuted a single one of the 19 hijackers! He respects their free exercise too much! Thanks, Obama!

    Duke for VP! Trump/Duke 2016!!!!

    Also, the sky is falling!!!

    BENGHAZI!!111

  • theDukedog7 .

    @29: Pieret the totalitarian:

    [Oh, look! Hobby Lobby!]

    There’s a real constitutional right–the right to freedom of speech. The right persists whether the speech is individual or corporate, just as the right to freedom of the press isn’t merely a right of individual journalists but is a right of journalist corporations.

    The notion that the government can censor campaign ads makes me sick. Freedom of speech is second only to free exercise of religion in the First Amendment.

    Hobby Lobby was rightly decided, obviously. People have the right freedom of speech individually, collectively, and in corporation.

    Opposition to Hobby Lobby is totalitarian in character.

  • corporal klinger

    @ dukedog

    You really should take more care of your digestive tract, honestly, you sound very constipated., I think a healthy bowel movement would do you very well. Maybe it would even prevent so much shit coming out of your mouth!

  • corporal klinger

    @ dukedog

    You know, I come here to Dispatches to improve my English and to get a good laugh from all the batshit crazy stuff american wingnuts spew all day long. It’s kind of taking a vacation from our very own european assholes, real amateurs in comparison to your kind. But I also wish to thank you for proving with every comment you make that I’m on the right side of history and you are not. It must be truly horrible to live in the mental sewer that is your world.

  • abb3w

    The press release is derp-tastic, making it sound like clerks/magistrates can simply refuse to issue licenses with a cheery “my God says piss off, faggots”. Though also craptacular, the fine print of the TX AG’s legal opinion seems considerably more nuanced — indicating an office can accommodate clerks with objections by having non-bigot clerks do the issuing, or use other similar workarounds, and warns there may be problems if they don’t have a handy non-bigot, or instead try a “massive resistance” approach of not issuing any licenses at all.

  • http://Www.metalmischief.com YOB – Ye Olde Blacksmith (Social Justice Support Person)

    MyPomeranian @36

    Yap yap jump jump

  • John Pieret

    There’s a real constitutional right–the right to freedom of speech. The right persists whether the speech is individual or corporate

    Where does the Constitution say corporations have a right to speech? That had to be teased out of the language the same way that the 14th Amendment had to be read to find that denying one class of people for no rational reason (none of the states could come up with one) the rights and benefits of marriage it gives to others.

    Hobby Lobby was rightly decided, obviously. People have the right freedom of speech individually, collectively, and in corporation.

    Where in the Constitution say that corporations have freedom of Religion? It’s only “rightly decided” because you liked it. You can’t give any grounds to distinguish the three cases.

    Freedom of speech (Hobby Lobby wasn’t a speech case), Freedom of Religion and Equal Protection (which includes equal treatment under the law) all are rights under the Constitution. Legally, the fact that you liked two but not the third has absolutely no meaning. And you, like the states, have been unable to articulate why gays don’t have the right to the equal protection of the law.

    But then you have no intention of trying to distinguish them. You’re just here to shout your assertions in hopes of annoying people.

    Do you ever sit down and think about just how pathetic that is?

  • Al Dente

    I wonder if Egnor has ever heard of the Ninth Amendment:

    The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.

    The right to same-sex marriage is there.

    This amendment came about because some of the Founding Fathers, aka writers of the Constitution, were afraid that only those rights enumerated in the Constitution and Bill of Rights would be allowed. James Madison proposed the 9th Amendment to get around this problem. It was passed almost unanimously by the Constitutional Convention delegates.

  • D. C. Sessions

    What about the capacitors?

    They are also included, by induction.

  • D. C. Sessions

    Do you ever sit down and think about just how pathetic that is?

    Is that what they call a “rhetorical question?”

  • Alverant

    I starting to wonder if Dog is just a Modis wannabe without the sense of humor.

  • John Pieret

    “OIs that what they call a “rhetorical question?”

    Actually, no. Egnor isn’t stupid … per se. He, like Ben Carson, is caught in a religious / ideological trap of their own devising. Carson goes out and tries (in ridiculous fashion, to be sure) to become President and Egnore sits hunched over ccomputers wit the only objective not to persuade or enlighten but to annoy. I kind of feel sorry for him.

  • Lady Mondegreen

    Well, Al Dente beat me to it @ #42, but–

    There is the real Constitution, which guarantees free exercise of religion, and there is the fake constitution of thugs, morons and felons that has a pretend “right” to SSM hidden somewhere no one can see (like the “right to abortion” or the “separation of church and state”.)

    Sorry, Spot. The Real Constitution(TM) is very clear: the rights we have are not limited to those enumerated by name in the Constitution. The Constitution is about making clear which of our rights, in particular, cannot be abridged by the government. The Constitution is about what the government cannot do; it’s not an exhaustive list of rights.

    So it is that the Supreme Court has said, for example, that the government may not abridge a citizen’s right to privacy (due process) by forcing her to carry an unwanted pregnancy to term, a victory for everyone who believes that sentient human beings have a right to bodily integrity and autonomy. Likewise, the Court has found that theocrats–that’s you, Prince–can’t use the government to force those of us who don’t share your beliefs and superstitions to participate in your rituals; indeed, the government is not allowed to deny citizens ordinary freedoms–like for example sexual relations between consenting adults, or the legal status of marriage–that come under the general headings of “liberty and the pursuit of happiness,” just because your Grimoire says they’ll make your god angry.

    So, no. You can’t use the Constitution to rationalize your desire to force the rest of us to observe your petty prohibitions. You lost. Deal with it.

  • http://lykex.livejournal.com LykeX

    I suspect Paxton knows this, but he doesn’t care. He’s aiming for higher office and this is the perfect way to pander to those he needs to pander to in order to run for higher office later.

    Its also important to note that he isn’t the one who’s going to be sued and have to spend time and money on a losing case. He’s never going to have to personally risk anything at all. He sends out the schmucks to fight the battle and they’re going to love him for it.

  • Nomad

    This twit thinks Hobby Lobby was about freedom of speech?

    Oh man, okay, I really need to stop taking him seriously.

  • EnlightenmentLiberal

    Opposition to Hobby Lobby is totalitarian in character.

    For once, I actually have to agree with him. Fucking miracles.

    Of course, I think it is a problem still, and I think the solution is drastic wealth redistribution and especially heavy progressive income tax and stupidly heavy progressive death taxes.

    @John Pieret

    Where does the Constitution say corporations have a right to speech?

    Could you please point out the step where you think it changes from constitutional to unconstitutional?

    I buy pens and paper from Staples, write my own ads, and distribute them myself.

    One of my friends donates money on the condition that I use it to buy pens and paper from Staples to write my own political ads, and to compensate me for distributing them.

    A meetup group gives money to one person, on a similar condition.

    I alone pay Staples to print some political ads. I still distribute myself.

    I alone pay Staples to print some political ads. I use craigslist to find someone and pay them to distribute the ads.

    One of my friends donates money to me on the condition that I use it to pay Staples to print some political ads, and to hire someone off craiglist to distribute the ads.

    A meetup group gives money to one person, who uses it to pay Kinkos to print some ads, and to hire someone off craigslist to distribute the ads.

    Modern campaign financing.

    John, I don’t see any reasonable spot to draw the line. I don’t think it can be done without granting too much power to the government to censor viewpoints.

  • dingojack

    Is your organisation incorporated? Yes|No.

    If Yes, you can’t donate money to political organisations.

    Gee, that was difficult.

    (And I thought libertarians worshipped at the feet of personal responsibility…)

    @@

    Dingo

  • dingojack

    ‘Limited Liability companies’ are a ‘no’ for political donations too, of course…

    Dingo

  • John Pieret

    John, I don’t see any reasonable spot to draw the line. I don’t think it can be done without granting too much power to the government to censor viewpoints.

    Well, one point might be where you take all those sources and, instead of using them for what they were intended for, used them to elect a local politician who you then used to generate business. Your sources may not find that a problem. if they are still making a profit, but what about the general public who don’t want their public officials bought and paid for without the general welfare in mind?

    I was neither approving nor condemning Citizens United (though personally I think it shits), I was using it to show Egnore has nothing like a consistent, honest intellectual position and is just a propagandist who will say anything anytime that conforms to his ideology.

  • Anri

    I wonder if theDukedog7 has figured out that by using the terms they are, they are demonstrating their utter obsession with sex acts?

    If you’re opposed to people practicing sodomy, theDukedog7, go after people practicing sodomy.

    Protip: there’s going to be one hell of a lot more of it among the fundie college kids trying to step around their abstinence oaths that under the roof of the married lesbian couple down the block.

    Honestly, though, your reduction of the desire to get married to sex urges is repulsive. Either it’s entirely dishonest, or it demonstrates your own attitude towards marriage, in which case, I feel sorry for your spouse, if you have one. It’s never fun being thought of as nothing but an living sex toy.

    So, which is it, Dukedog7?

    Do you admit that marriage is about more than sex?

    Or do you consider your (potential) marriage just an outlet for your urges?

  • erichoug

    Why do you even bother with people like Duke Dog?

    One thing I do find interesting about people like him, they absolutely LOVE to talk about gay sex. They an’t wait to spit out “Sodomy”. Personally, I’ve always thought that their opposition to equal rights had a lot more to do with their own personal issues and a lot less to do with the people they don’t want to be equal.

  • colnago80

    Re erichoug @ #55

    I agree. Since Brayton hasn’t, so far, seen fit to give him the heave ho, I suggest everybody who follows this blog put Egnorance on Blog Killfile, available for both Firefox and Chrome, which will make his comments invisible. That way, he will be talking to himself.

  • Nick Gotts

    Lawrence only found a magical constitutional right to sodomy (in the rear of the constitution, presumably). – Michael Egnor, shameless liar, gormless numpty and hate-filled bigot@22

    Despite how clearly that reveals the seething hatred beneath the pretence of constitutional concerns, you Just couldn’t help yourself, could you?

  • abb3w

    @55, erichoug

    Why do you even bother with people like Duke Dog?

    Practice. He’s hardly alone in his opinions; presenting him with counterarguments can help indicate how similar people will attempt to resist persuasion, allowing one to test argument approaches and learn to anticipate the sorts of responses that will be used, and perhaps indicate (EG: via him declining to respond) which persuasive arguments are harder for the nutjobs to resist. Additionally, it sometimes requires doing a little research, which can be educational. (Have you ever heard of the National Liberal League? I don’t think I had prior to stumbling across them this week.)

  • wildbill

    Second try (tried to leave info on paxton yesterday and the comment had to go for some sort approval, which it didn’t get),

    The AG has some legal problems of his own:

    http://www.wfaa.com/story/news/politics/2015/07/01/ken-paxton-felony-fraud-case/29593211/