As Americans were celebrating freedom on the nation’s 239th birthday last weekend, a county clerk in West Texas was preparing a manifesto defying the U.S. Supreme Court decision that gay and lesbian couples have the freedom to marry under the U.S. Constitution. Then on Sunday the clerk, Molly Criner of Irion County near San Angelo, posted her manifesto on a listserve for other county clerks. Her screed encourages state officials to disregard the Supreme Court’s ruling:

“[T]he federal Judiciary” has “neither Force nor Will, but merely judgment; and must ultimately depend upon the aid of the executive arm” and the States, for the carrying out of its judgments, and it is high time that the Court is so reminded.”

Criner goes on to claim that “Natural Marriage between one man and one woman remains the law in Texas, regardless of any court decision to the contrary.” She then declares that as county clerk she “shall resist unlawful federal or state court encroachments upon the prerogative of the People of Texas to protect Natural Marriage, and shall only issue marriage licenses consistent with Texas law, so help me God.” (Click here to read Criner’s manifesto.)

In an accompanying email to her fellow county clerks, Criner calls the… Read More

The Austin American-Statesman has posted a short video of TFN President Kathy Miller calling on Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to stop obstructing the Supreme Court’s ruling on the freedom to marry for gay and lesbian couples. Kathy was speaking at a press conference on Monday at the Texas Capitol. She spoke along with leaders from the Human Rights Campaign, Equality Texas, and the ACLU of Texas as well as plaintiffs in the federal and Texas marriage court cases.… Read More

Austin television station KXAN sent a reporter to San Saba, west of Austin, to find out why a county clerk there is refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Apparently, the clerk originally said she didn’t have to do so because marriage for gay and lesbian couples violates her religious beliefs.

But once the reporter got to her office, the clerk’s office changed the reason:

“I don’t have the proper documentation. I don’t have the proper forms.”

Uh, yeah. Right.

Look, many counties across Texas made the necessary accommodations to issue licenses right after the Supreme Court ruled on Friday that the Constitution guarantees the freedom to marry for same-sex couples.

The blame for the delays in San Saba and other countries lies largely with Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, who issued a formal opinion on Sunday telling county clerks that they cause use their religious beliefs to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Magistrates and justices of the peace can likewise refuse to perform weddings for such couples, Paxton wrote.

So now public officials like the one in San Saba are, with encouragement from the state’s chief law enforcement official, refusing to serve taxpayers… Read More

This morning the Texas Freedom Network joined with partner organizations — Human Rights Campaign, ACLU of Texas, Equality Texas — at a press conference to celebrate Friday’s historic decision for the freedom to marry by the U.S. Supreme Court. Among the speakers at the Texas Capitol press conference was Jim Obergefell, the named plaintiff in the landmark case, as well as the four plaintiffs in the Texas marriage case that went to the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals.

In addition to celebrating the decision, however, we also issued a warning to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and other state and local officials who are trying to obstruct implementation of the Supreme Court’s rulings: Obey the law. Below are remarks TFN President Kathy Miller (at the podium in the photo) made at the press conference:

I’m Kathy Miller, president of the Texas Freedom Network, a nonpartisan, grassroots organization of religious and community leaders that since our founding 20 years ago has supported religious freedom and individual liberties for all.

It is truly an honor to stand with these plaintiffs who so courageously allowed their love and commitment to withstand the scrutiny of our courts. Their bravery has brought our… Read More

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Sunday afternoon issued a formal opinion claiming that public officials in the Lone Star State can use religion as an excuse to discriminate and refuse to carry out the duties of their taxpayer-funded jobs.

Paxton was replying to a request from Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick about whether county clerks, judges and other public officials must issue licenses or conduct weddings for gay and lesbian couples. On Friday the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that gay and lesbian Americans have a constitutional right to marry.

In his opinion this afternoon, Paxton writes:

“County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case” “Justices of the peace and judges similarly retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection, because it is not the least restrictive means of the government ensuring the ceremonies occur. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

Paxton even… Read More