Last week, we told you how Katie Lang (below right), the county clerk in Hood County, Texas, was refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, citing her religious beliefs. We also mentioned that a gay couple of 27 years, Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, were prepared to sue Lang this morning if she had not issued them a license before then.
As it turns out, Cato and Stapleton did in fact file the lawsuit, but then Lang immediately caved and issued them a license. However, the couple’s attorneys say they won’t drop the lawsuit until she agrees to issue licenses to all couples without delay and pay Cato and Stapleton’s attorneys’ fees. From The Dallas Morning News:
In a prepared statement, attorney Jan Soifer says her clients Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton are “delighted that they finally have been issued a marriage license and can get married in their home county.”
However, she adds, “It’s a shame that they needed to hire lawyers and file a lawsuit to make that happen. The issuance of the license this morning immediately after the lawsuit was filed does not change the fact that Hood County Clerk Katie Lang has been willfully violating the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law since Friday, June 26, when the Supreme Court issued its Obergefell opinion. The license was issued this morning, a few hours after the lawsuit was filed, in handwriting on the existing license form, which proves that County Clerk Lang easily could have complied with the law without waiting ten days. Under these circumstances, the lawsuit will not be dismissed until and unless we have an agreement from Clerk Lang that her office will issue marriage licenses to all couples, gay and straight, without delay, and an agreement to pay Jim and Joe’s attorneys’ fees for being forced to file the lawsuit.”
Cato and Stapleton reportedly plan a press conference later this afternoon. More from CBSDFW.com:
Stapleton and Cato have been waiting 27 years to get married. They finally got the chance after the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on gay marriage. The couple believes that the county clerk’s office violated their constitutional rights. “We’re not after her. We’re not after her job,” Stapleton added. “We’re after equality.”
The issue drew protesters from both sides last week, but only one person was taking a stand on Monday morning — in support of same-sex marriage. “It takes a lawsuit being filed for them to finally get their rights,” stated protester Adam Davies. “That’s just really disgusting, that a threat of punishment of some sort is all that will get people to follow their rights. It’s really embarrassing.”
In other news, Texas state Rep. Cecil Bell, who led the charge against same-sex marriage in the recent legislative session, released an anti-gay manifesto Monday in which he calls for, among other things, the impeachment of Supreme Court justices who sided in favor of marriage equality.
Read Cato and Stapleton’s lawsuit below, and watch news reports about it, below.