Reckless Texas Politicians, Religious-Right Group Just Cost Taxpayers $44,000

by Dan Quinn

Days after the U.S.  Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian couples have the freedom to marry, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a formal opinion claiming that public officials could use their religious beliefs as an excuse for refusing to issue marriage licenses to or conduct weddings for same-sex couples. The Plano-based, religious-right group Liberty Institute also rushed forward with its lawyers to defend the “religious liberty” of public officials refusing to do their taxpayer-funded jobs.

All of those reckless efforts to subvert the Supreme Court’s ruling just cost taxpayers in Hood County southwest of Fort Worth nearly $44,000.

On Monday Hood County Commissioners agreed to pay the attorney fees — $43,872.10 — for a gay couple who sued after the county clerk, Katie Lang, repeatedly refused to issue them a marriage license. She claimed that issuing the license would offend her religious beliefs. Liberty Institute’s lawyers defended her and even used the case as a fundraising tool.

Now taxpayers in Hood County have to pay the penalty for such irresponsibility. They have Lang, Paxton and Liberty Institute to thank for that. Maybe someone should ask Liberty Institute to cover the cost with the money they raised off the case.

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