Well this is a bit of a surprise.
Texas Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick, speaking to Texas Tribune editor Evan Smith on Friday, pretty much said that if Kim Davis or someone like her doesn’t want to do her job, she can quit. In yet another surprise, Patrick added that, though he disagrees with it, the Supreme Court’s ruling allowing same-sex marriages is now the law of the land. The comments are a departure from his fellow Texas religious-righters who have spent months calling the ruling “lawless” and cheering for Davis to both keep her taxpayer-funded paycheck and the right to discriminate against committed same-sex couples seeking marriage licenses from her taxpayer-funded office.
Applause for the the lieutenant guv? Hold on. It may be he only said so because he painted himself into a rhetorical corner. Here’s how it went down.
Patrick’s comments came during a long conversation with Smith at the start of this year’s TribFest. The two were chatting about a law going into effect next year that will allow concealed handguns on the state’s college campuses. Smith pointed out that some professors have expressed opposition to the law. Here, according to the Austin American-Statesman, is how the rest of the conversation went:
Those professors, Patrick said, are free to seek employment in a school more suited to their needs.
“They can quit and go somewhere comfortable, just like a student who didn’t feel safe because they weren’t allowed to carry can go to another school,” Patrick said.
“Or,” Smith interjected, “just like a county clerk who doesn’t want to issue a same-sex marriage license — the option available to you is quit your job and get another job.”
“Right,” Patrick said. “I don’t agree with the Supreme Court decision (allowing gay marriage), but it’s the law of the land. That county clerk has the choice to go to jail or quit or comply. The law of Texas is campus carry, and the professor has the right to quit or comply.”
That’s odd, because the day the court issued the ruling Patrick said of the decision: “I do not believe that is what the Constitution intended or allows. In my view, this is a clear violation of the separation of powers.” And Patrick’s allies, like Attorney General Ken Paxton, have encouraged county clerks to do what Davis did. They’ve pined for a Texan Kim Davis they can call their own.
Regardless, whether he felt cornered or not, we’re glad to see Lt. Gov. Patrick believes public officials have a duty to uphold the law, serve everyone equally, and can’t use their religious beliefs as an excuse to discriminate.