Texas AG says public officials can choose to deny same-sex marriage licenses

Ken Paxton
FILE - In this Jan. 5, 2015, file photio, Ken Paxton speaks after he was sworn in as Texas attorney general in Austin, Texas. Paxton calls the Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry a "lawless ruling" and says state workers can cite their religious objections in denying marriage licenses. He warned in a statement Sunday, June 28, 2015, that any clerk, justice of the peace or other administrator who declines to issue a license to a same-sex couple could face litigation or a fine. But in the nonbinding legal opinion, Paxton says "numerous lawyers" stand ready to defend, free of charge, any public official refusing to grant one. (AP Photo/Eric Gay, File)

AUSTIN (KXAN) — Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement Sunday on the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage ruling stating that county clerks, justices of the peace, judges and their employees may object to issuing same-sex marriage licences due to their religious beliefs.

Paxton adds that while officials are allowed to choose not to issue same-sex marriage licenses, they may face litigation and/or a fine for doing so.

“In the Attorney General’s opinion my office issued in response to Lt. Governor Patrick’s request for guidance, we find that although it fabricated a new constitutional right in 2015, the Supreme Court did not diminish, overrule, or call into question the First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion that formed the first freedom in the Bill of Rights in 1791. This newly invented federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage should peaceably coexist alongside longstanding constitutional and statutory rights, including the rights to free exercise of religion and speech,” said Paxton in his statement.

You can view Paxton’s full statement.

Sen. Jose Rodriguez, D-El Paso released a statement calling Paxton’s statement irresponsible.

“Public officials, from county clerks to the Attorney General to the Governor, do not get to choose what laws the y will follow and which ones they will not. If they can’t follow the law, including upholding the U.S. constitution in its entirety, and fulfill all of their official duties, then they should resign from elected office,” said Sen. Rodriguez in his statement.

You can view Sen. Jose Rodriguez’s full statement here.

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