County clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples based on religious objections to gay marriage, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Sunday.
Paxton noted that clerks who refuse to issue licenses can expect to be sued, but added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.
Advocates of gay marriage said Paxton’s directive amounted to government-sponsored discrimination. Austin lawyer Jody Scheske said Paxton’s opinion was legally and morally wrong.
“We settled the idea that public officials can pick which citizens to serve or not in the ’50s and ’60s civil rights litigation. They cannot,” Scheske said.
I can see an "establishment clause" fight on this
I say this with sincere love to my many friends who are passionate fundamentalist Christians who believe that the SCOTUS’s decision yesterday on marriage equality is an abomination to themselves and to God: As a lawyer, I need to attempt to set the record straight.
Our country was created by our founding fathers very deliberately to prevent the establishment of a national religion from our governance. The Church - Catholic or Anglican - was central to almost every other country in the world historically, especially England from which our founding fathers separated. It was critical to our founding fathers that one central religion NOT be declared and NOT be incorporated into our Constitution or governance. They understood that an establishment of a national religion would ultimately abridge the very rights they believed were fundamental and were meant to be recognized and protected by the Bill of Rights and ultimately the Constitution.
Religion-based loss of basic rights had been their experience in England and they wanted to prevent that here.
The fact is that this decision yesterday was a LEGAL decision about the scope of our Constitutional rights as humans and US citizens. It was not about religion, religious beliefs or religious freedom. It is about equal rights, just as the decision in this country to give women the vote and the decision to abolish slavery were about equal rights. Any decision regarding the scope of a constitutional right (whether passed by Congress or interpreted by the SCOTUS) is a legal decision, not one based in religion or morality.
Rights are not and should not be up for a popular vote or up to the states to determine. Rights are absolute and cannot be dependent upon anything other than the fact that the person is a human being and is a citizen of the US. If those two conditions are met, YOUR belief system about what is MORALLY or spiritually right or wrong does not matter and should not. You should be glad that is the case, because it would be just as easy for another religion to take over and curtail your rights as a Christian (something that has happened throughout history).
In fact, one religious party believing they know the truth for all humans is how terrible oppression starts - that is how Naziism started, the Crusades, the Inquisition, the Salem Witch Trials, the Klu Klux Klan, Al-Qaeda and now ISIS - the most destructive, hateful, murderous periods of human history have arisen directly out of one religious group (ironically, most of these examples were lead by Christians) believing their religion and religious beliefs were THE truth, and therefore they had the right to take away the rights (and lives) of those who lived or believed differently than them.
Our founding fathers wanted to prevent that outcome. So does our current Supreme Court. THAT is the law of the land and I could not be more grateful to be an American than when human rights are protected. I don’t have to agree with you to believe with all my heart and soul that YOUR rights to life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness should be protected against oppression or prejudice. LGBT US citizens deserve exactly the same treatment. God Bless America.
p.s. Those railing against the decision of marriage equality as a basic constitutional right are confusing the idea of constitutional (i.e human) rights with certain types of behavior (the stuff they call "sin"). But human rights are inherent in all human beings and US citizens - not doled out based on who is behaving "well" and who isn't. All US citizens should have the equal right to pursue life, liberty and happiness, regardless of the "sins" they commit. The only behavior that should curtail your constitutional rights is if you commit a crime (a felony) and are convicted. But even then, criminals can still marry, have kids, own property, work and live in our communities. The only things they can't do is vote and carry firearms. If committing a sin was a barrier to receiving basic constitutional rights in this country, we would all be in big trouble, not just the LGBT community.
This is just a footnote.
The battle has been won. The legal change is following a societal change. There will be a little murmuring like this, and then as a society we will move on.