Texas County Clerk Issues Manifesto Declaring Defiance of Supreme Court’s Marriage Ruling

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 Supreme Court’s historic ruling “unlawful”:

“As a country, it’s inherent in our very DNA to stand against unlawful seizures of power that violate our God given rights and liberty. The Obergefell decision looks like just such a seizure. It went beyond the judge’s confined duty of interpreting the written Constitution and established precedents and instead redefined marriage in a way they would like it to be. Natural marriage can be recognized by government, but it cannot be redefined without stepping out of the bounds of nature and nature’s God, who was recognized at the founding of our nation as the very source of our liberties.”

She then goes on to declare her rejection of clerks who have decided to uphold the responsibilities of their jobs and accept the Supreme Court’s ruling as the law of the land:

“I must reject this ruling that I believe is lawless. It’s a scary thing to do, but I believe strongly that I have to stand for the Constitution and the rule of law. … I am imploring the Texas Legislature to exercise its authority under the 9th and 10th Amendments and reject this ruling as being without authority.”

(Click here to read Criner’s email to fellow county clerks.)

Liberty Counsel, a far-right and rabidly anti-gay litigation group based in Florida, has offered to serve as pro bono counsel for Criner. The Southern Poverty Law Center lists Liberty Counsel, which has ties to the late Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University, as an anti-LGBT hate group.

Irion’s county clerk isn’t the only local officials trying to defy the Supreme Court. A gay couple in Hood County near Fort Worth filed a lawsuit on Monday to force the county clerk there to issue them a marriage license. The clerk, Katie Lang, finally issued the license after refusing to do so last week. The anti-gay group Liberty Institute, based in Plano north of Dallas, is representing Lang. Austin attorneys Jan Soifer and Austin Kaplan are representing the gay couple and have said they will not withdraw the lawsuit until Lang guarantees that she won’t delay issuing licenses to other same-sex couples. They also want Lang to pay the attorney fees for the couple who had to sue.

It shouldn’t be too surprising that Hood County has been one center of opposition to the Supreme Court’s marriage ruling. Some far-right activists are trying to force the county’s library to remove LGBT-friendly books from its shelves.

11 thoughts on “Texas County Clerk Issues Manifesto Declaring Defiance of Supreme Court’s Marriage Ruling

  1. With all the backlash to the “abolition” of of marriage inequality, I assume there was similar — if not more widespread and vitriolic — backlash to the abolition of slavery when 13th Amendment was passed. I think it would be an interesting exercise to compare anti-13th Amendment “manifestos” to anti-marriage equality ones, such as Criner’s presented here. A “quiz” could be designed where actual statements from both eras are listed but with the telltale objects (i.e., slavery and same-sex marriage) hidden to see if one can figure out which is which based on the unspecified spewing alone. I fear there would be some very similar statements by the bigots of the respective centuries.

    1. A bit closer are the reactions to the enforced end to anti-miscegenation laws.
      Polls taken in the very recent past have shown that in some states there still would be no democratic majority for dropping those laws and in at least one their reintroduction could actually win, i.e. a slim majority of the VOTING* population would favor banning interracial marriage by law again.

      *not total population, just those parts that vote on a regular base (given the generally low turnout that is a huge difference).

  2. All government employees who take their oaths of office take God’s name in vain because they swore to defend and protect the Constitution of the United States of America…so help me God.

    Since they refuse to keep their oath, they should be arrested by Federal Marshals and imprisoned for the amount of time specified in the law.

    This afternoon a young girl rang my doorbell. She broke two laws in doing so. First, she had no solicitor’s license and she ignored the no solicitor’s signs on my house.

    She said that she wasn’t soliciting, she was a customer service person. I told her that she was trying to sell something and that made her a solicitor. Then I politely said, “Please leave my property.”

    I gave her three chances to leave my property. She told me that she wasn’t a solicitor and that it wasn’t against the law to do what she was doing.

    The third time I asked her to leave or I would call the police. She put her hands on her hips and said “Go ahead, I’m not breaking the law.” So I dialed 911. THEN she decided to leave.
    The police caught her down the street. She started telling them why she was not breaking the law. Then after telling the police what she thought, she turned her back on them and walked away from them.
    The officer called for backup and you should have seen the look on her face when they clapped the handcuffs on her.
    She was put in the back of the second cruiser and the last time I saw her she was STILL arguing with the officer as she was being taken to jail.

    The religious wrong who thinks that they are not breaking laws are going to have to learn the hard way that the law is the law. Sigh…

  3. Y’all got a regular totalitarian state going on down Texas way. I bet Hitler, Stalin, and Pol Pot are really proud of y’all. Could y’all get me a complete copy of that there manifesto she wrote?

    1. Lighten up on the Texas-bashing, Charles. The resisting county clerks are in the vast MINORITY. The majority of TX counties are issuing licenses to same-sex couples willy-nilly. Some of the smallest TX towns in very conservative counties are doing the right thing and gay couples are tying knots all over the place. Sure, the kooks give good press. For the most part, it’s business as usual here in TX and marriage equality is happening, baby, despite the regressive efforts of our governor, lt. gov., atty general (and repub. pres. hopeful Ted Cruz). SCOTUS has spoken.
      PS: There is a link to Criner’s ridiculous “manifesto” at the top of the article.
      PPS: Using Criner’s “logic,” a male Muslim DMV worker could refuse to issue a DRIVERS LICENSE to a woman because his religion contends that women shalll not drive.

        1. After I wrote my “lighten up” message, it occurred to me that maybe you were faking a right-week good ol’ boy lingo or something like that. But based on your recent hostile and immature reply, I am prone to think that maybe you were indeed speaking your mind, as was I.

  4. It is my earnest hope that someone here will send a message to the Civil Rights Division at the U.S. Department of Justice with this manifesto and letter attached to request that this woman be placed under arrest for federal obstruction of justice and whatever other crimes she might can be charged with. The only way to deal with something like this is to make an example of someone—and she has apparently volunteered for the job. Throw the book at her!!!

  5. There is an interesting comic book from 1949 Young Romance no. 60 that illustrates similiar feelings about Protastants marrying Jews. Pretty powerful stuff for a comic. Drawn and written by Simon and Kirby both Jews who had experienced discrimination.

    Download it here, if you’re interested, it’s out of copyright. http://bit.ly/sMG81E

  6. Irion County is one of the smallest counties (by population) in Texas (1612 inhabitants is the 2013 Census estimate). I wonder if it has even ever had a same-sex couple apply for a marriage license there.

    In any case, there’s really no Constitutional grounds for saying you don’t have to do your job. If I’m against cutting grass, I don’t have to work as a lawnmower, but I won’t get paid for mowing lawns if I don’t.

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