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Government/Politics

SCOTUS Same-Sex Marriage Plaintiff Cries Foul On Texas AG Opinion

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Ryan E. Poppe
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Same-sex marriage SCOTUS plaintiff, Jim Obergefell and Plaintiffs in Texas case, Mark Phariss and Vic Holmes

The plaintiff in the US Supreme Court same-sex marriage case helps rally support against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal opinion concerning religious freedom and same-sex marriage licenses.   

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton

Over the weekend, Paxton issued his legal opinion, assuring that clerk’s religious objections to the law would not be sidelined.  He writes that, “County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow them to deny same-sex marriage licenses.  And that Justices of the peace and judges similarly may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies.”

Paxton reaffirms that these county employees have pro-bono attorneys standing by, ready to take their case

Standing on the steps of the state capitol with the Texas flags flying above and the gay-pride flag flying on the ground below, Jim Obergefell, the plaintiff in the Supreme Court case told a crowd of supporters that no one’s personal religious beliefs would trump the court’s ruling.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Jim Obergefell, plaintiff in 2015 SCOTUS Obergefell v. Hodges case.

“Your freedom of religion has in no way been compromised or threatened or lessened by the Supreme Court’s ruling. You still have the right to live your life to believe what you want to believe. My marriage does not impact that and does not threaten that,” Obergefell stressed.

But despite the initial protest, Chuck Smith with the LGBT-rights group Equality Texas says clerks in conservative counties throughout the state are beginning to issue marriage licenses.

“Since we’ve been here this morning, Williamson County, Burnet, Milan, Denton County, Smith County in Tyler, Collin County, in counties across the state clerks are understanding that they have taken an oath to uphold the law,” Smith told the crowd of supporters.

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Credit Ryan E. Poppe
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Chuck Smith, Equality Texas

Most of the 22 counties that were denying marriage licenses are now issuing them, despite the Attorney General’s instructions.

Rebecca Robertson is the lead legal counsel with the ACLU of Texas and says they have launched a 24/7 hotline where same-sex couples can report clerks and justices of the peace refusing to comply with the law and will also provide pro-bono attorneys should the need arise.