While a host of state officials across the country have expressed sentiments ranging from disappointment to outrage over the Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing gay marriage — stripping the issue from state control — some officials are not accepting the decision without a fight.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton characterized the decision as “a judge-based edict that is not based in the law,” according to CNN.
In a statement on Friday, Paxton said “no court, no law, no rule, and no words will change the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Nothing will change the importance of a mother and a father to the raising of a child. And nothing will change our collective resolve that all Americans should be able to exercise their faith in their daily lives without infringement and harassment.”
Paxton, according to CNN, has issued an opinion that Lone Star State county clerks “retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.”
And judges “may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections.”
If refusal by a government official to conduct a same-sex marriage results in a lawsuit or fine, Paxton “assured such-minded judges and clerks that ‘numerous lawyers’ will help defend their rights, perhaps on a pro bono basis, and his office stands ready to assist them as well.”
Louisiana Attorney General Buddy Caldwell says there is “nothing in [the] decision that makes the court’s order effective immediately” and contends that “therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana,” The Hill reports.
Before the landmark decision, 13 states had same-sex marriage bans.
States clustered in the South and upper Midwest are the most vocal critics of the high court’s ruling and its “encroachment on states’ rights and religious freedom,” The Hill notes, though “most acknowledge they cannot ignore it.”
Kentucky’s attorney general, Jack Conway, said states are just trying to understand the ruling’s reach.
“The ruling does not tell a minister or congregation what they must do, but it does make clear that the government cannot pick and choose when it comes to issuing marriage licenses and the benefits they confer,” he said.
Alabama Attorney General Luther Strange predicts the fight will now be “the exercise of one’s religious liberty.”
Marc Solomon, national campaign director at Freedom to Marry, told The Hill that states that defy the high court’s ruling would be imparting a “dangerous message.”
“The notion that public employees get to pick and choose which laws they follow based on their religious beliefs is a really dangerous precedent and a terrible public policy,” Solomon said. “If you’re a public official, you need to carry out those laws, and you don’t get to decide whether they’re right or wrong.”