Texas AG says he will help judges who are fined or sued for denying same-sex marriage licenses
Most states that previously banned same-sex marriages say they will respect Supreme Court ruling
Alabama high court says it's suspending the marriages for 25 days so "parties" can address ruling
With last week’s Supreme Court ruling, same-sex couples are flocking to the altar in all 50 states, right?
There are still a few holdouts, as various politicians take firm stands against a 5-to-4 high court decision they argue is revisionist, or illegal even.
Until Friday, same-sex marriage was already allowed in 37 states and the District of Columbia. Now, as wedding bells ring across much of the nation, here’s a look at the states that have been less than enthusiastic about the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges.
We’ll begin with Texas and Alabama, which have raised the most voluminous protests. Although same-sex marriage was legal in Alabama before Friday thanks to a federal court decision, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore, who has remained notoriously resilient in his opposition, maintains that last week’s high court decision does not mark the end of his fight.
“A judge-based edict that is not based in the law” – that’s how Attorney General Ken Paxton described the Supreme Court ruling in a Sunday statement.
This, two days after he compared the ruling to the abortion decision, Roe V. Wade, which he cited as another example of how the U.S. Constitution “can be molded to mean anything by unelected judges.”
“But 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,” his Friday statement said.
In denouncing what he called a “fabricated” and “newly invented” constitutional right, the state’s top law enforcement official repeatedly invoked freedom of religion and said he had issued an opinion, at Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s request, that the state’s county clerks “retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses.”
Similarly, he wrote, judges “may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections.”
Paxton acknowledged that officials refusing to issue licenses to same-sex couple may be sued or fined, but he 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.
Call it same-sex marriage redux.
When a federal court issued a ruling that cleared the path for same-sex marriage in Alabama earlier this year, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore told Alabama’s probate judges not to issue the licenses, prompting at least one probate judge to liken Moore’s stance to then-Gov. George Wallace’s “stand in the schoolhouse door,” an assertion Moore denied.
“I’m not standing in any door. I did not bring this on. This was forced upon our state. This is simply federal tyranny,” he told CNN. “This is not about race. This is about entering into the institution of marriage.”
Following Friday’s ruling, Moore shared a Facebook post from his wife, the president of the Montgomery-based Foundation for Moral Law, “blowing the whistle on the illegitimacy of today’s decision.”
“Not only does the U.S. Supreme Court have no legal authority to redefine marriage, but also at least 2 members of the Court’s majority opinion were under a legal duty to recuse and refrain from voting. Their failure to recuse calls into question the validity of this decision,” the statement said.
(Moore told CNN in February that Justices Elena Kagan and Ruth Bader Ginsburg should recuse themselves because they’ve performed same-sex marriages.)
On Monday, the state Supreme Court issued a writ of mandamus suspending same-sex marriages in Alabama for 25 days to give “parties” time to file motions “addressing” the U.S. Supreme Court ruling. Moore abstained from voting, according to the vote tally included in the writ.
Gov. Robert Bentley gave no indication he would put his office’s weight behind the U.S. Supreme Court ruling.
“I have always believed in the Biblical definition of marriage as being between one man and one woman. That definition has been deeply rooted in our society for thousands of years. Regardless of today’s ruling by the Supreme Court, I still believe in a one man and one woman definition of marriage,” his statement said.
Gov. Asa Hutchinson has repeatedly said that he feels marriage can be only between one man and one woman, but earlier this year, he urged tolerance as the nation engages in dialogue and debate. He also acknowledged there’s a generational divide when it comes to sentiments on this issue.
Thus, it should no surprise that the governor issued a statement saying that while he didn’t care for the ruling, he’d “direct all state agencies to comply with the decision.”
But there’s a catch. He said the Supreme Court’s decision is aimed only at states and “is not a directive for churches or pastors to recognize same-sex marriage. The decision for churches, pastors and individuals is a choice that should be left to the convictions of conscience.”
Gov. Nathan Deal kept it short and simple, both on Twitter feed and in his official response.
“The state of Georgia is subject to the laws of the United States and we will follow them,” he succinctly stated, while making it clear that he feels the Supreme Court overstepped its authority on an issue that should be decided by states.
The Kentucky Department of Libraries and Archives has received marching orders to revise its marriage license forms, effective Immediately, Gov. Steve Beshear said Friday.
All Cabinet positions have been directed to alter any necessary policies to implement the Supreme Court ruling, which the governor said provided clarity on a confusing and unfairly administered issue.
“The fractured laws across the country concerning same-sex marriage had created an unsustainable and unbalanced legal environment, wherein citizens were treated differently depending on the state in which they resided. That situation was unfair, no matter which side of the debate you may support,” he wrote.
In line with its staunch opposition to same-sex marriage, Louisiana is not going to roll over simply because the Supreme Court issued a ruling.
Court clerks were advised Friday to wait up to 25 days before issuing same-sex marriage licenses, as Attorney General Buddy Caldwell said he found nothing in the Supreme Court ruling that makes it effective immediately.
“Therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licenses or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana. The Attorney General’s Office will be watching for the Court to issue a mandate or order making today’s decision final and effective and will issue a statement when that occurs,” Caldwell said in a statement Friday.
The state amended its constitution in 2004 to define marriage as between one man and one woman, he said, boasting that he “fought to uphold Louisiana’s definition of traditional marriage.” A federal court previously upheld the amendment,