On Wednesday, we told you how wingnut Texas Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton said he’ll do “anything we can” to fight a U.S. Supreme Court ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.
Now, Paxton is desperately pleading with county clerks not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if such a ruling should come down.
From the Associated Press:
Paxton, a Republican who opposes gay marriage, suggested they stand pat until hearing from his office.
“Whatever the ruling, I would recommend that all county clerks and justices of the peace wait for direction and clarity from this office about the meaning of the court’s opinion and the rights of Texans under the law,” Paxton said in a statement.
Unfortunately for Paxton, it’s a little late. Clerks in Austin, Dallas and San Antonio have already said they’ll consult with their own local county attorneys and begin issuing licenses as soon as possible after the high court’s ruling.
Paxton’s desperate plea mirrors letters to county clerks from Texas Values, an anti-gay hate group. In the letters, Texas Values threatens that county clerks who issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples will be guilty of a criminal offense for altering marriage license application forms from the state, which currently say “male” and “female.” But I spoke to Lambda Legal senior counsel Ken Upton about that, and he said the following:
“That problem is easily resolved. Let the applicant alter the form.
“Give it to them and let them cross through anything that is gender inappropriate.
“I’m not sure it is a criminal offense for him [them] to alter the form anyway. What WOULD BE a criminal offense would be refusing to issue the marriage license for reasons other than lack of proof of identity or age. The statute does cover that. But it is irrelevant. He can ask them to be sure before they sign it that everything on the application is true and correct.”
I also received this statement Thursday from Chuck Smith, executive director of Equality Texas, and Nick Hudson of Texas for Marriage:
“If the Supreme Court rules in favor of freedom and families, we know that many clerks across Texas will begin issuing licenses in accordance with their oath to uphold the United States Constitution — without delay and without consulting the Texas Attorney General’s press statements. Texas is ready for marriage.”
And this from Neel Lane, an attorney for same-sex couples challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage ban:
“The attorney general will have no standing to delay the issuance of marriage licenses if the Supreme Court rules that same-sex marriage is the law of the land. Attorney generals aren’t supposed to be in the business of praying but in the business of interpreting the law, and in this case the Supreme Court is going to be quite clear when it rules. Clerks should not delay any further.”