Resistance may look futile, but U.S. lawmakers and state workers are not done rebelling against the Supreme Court’s ruling on gay marriage.
In Decatur County, Tennessee the clerk and two employees — the whole office — have resigned, effective July 14, rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, and a Texas clerk said Monday she will not obey the court’s “lawless” ruling.
Traditional marriage advocates are urging lawmakers to enact the First Amendment Defense Act, introduced by Sen. Mike Lee of Utah and Rep. Raul Labrador of Idaho, both Republicans.
This legislation — which would stop government from taking “any discriminatory action” against someone who objects to same-sex marriage because of their religious faith — should be passed at the federal and state levels, Brian S. Brown told a National Organization for Marriage event Thursday.
This act “is our best immediate response, our best chance to gain some very real protections, and get a victory in the wake of this bad Supreme Court decision,” said Mr. Brown, adding that the measure could be presented to some voters as ballot initiatives.
Meanwhile, most of America is complying with the Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, according groups like the Human Rights Campaign and soon-to-be-closed Freedom to Marry.
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The high court’s 5-4 ruling said states may not withhold civil marriage licenses from same-sex couples, based on the 14th Amendment’s due process and equal protection clauses.
An unknown number of marriage licenses have been issued to same-sex couples since June 26.
Still, the Obergefell ruling will not end the marriage debate, lawmakers and traditional marriage advocates said.
In Alabama, lawmakers in the Senate — but not the House — have passed a law to end state involvement in issuing marriage licenses.
In Mississippi, Rep. Andy Gipson, chairman of the state House Judiciary Committee, told the Clarion-Ledger that their body might also consider “removing the state marriage license requirement.”
Earlier this year, Oklahoma House members passed a bill shifting marriage duties to clergy, who would issue marriage certificates, or public notaries, who would issue a common-law marriage affidavit, all filed with the state. That bill was not taken up in the Oklahoma Senate, but the two chambers enacted a bill — signed May 1 by Gov. Mary Fallin — that permits any “licensed, ordained or authorized official of any religious organization” to decline to wed same-sex couples if it violated their conscience or religious beliefs.
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Texas Gov. Greg Abbott has also signed a “Pastor Protection Act,” which ensures that pastors “have the freedom to exercise their First Amendment rights” and decline to participate in marriages that violate their sincerely held religious beliefs.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has also issued a non-binding legal opinion saying county clerks and their employees may follow their conscience on marriage and seek “certain accommodations” under religious freedom laws. Mr. Paxton has since been criticized for violating legal conduct rules.
In Tennessee, Decatur County Clerk Gwen Pope and employees Sharon Bell and Mickey Butler told WKRN-TV in Nashville they will resign rather than participate in same-sex marriages.
On Monday, Molly Crimer, clerk for Irion County, Texas, said she would keep her oath to uphold the Constitution and rule of law, which means “I must reject this [Obergefell] ruling that I believe is lawless.”
She is offered pro bono legal representation by Liberty Counsel, which released a July 4, 2015 “Declaration of Obedience to Law and Defense of Natural Marriage” about her actions.
“The Supreme Court has historically made a number of bad rulings that time and justice have been able to realize and overcome,” said Mat Staver, founder and chairman of Liberty Counsel. The organization will provide free legal defense for clerks who want to fight the Supreme Court decision, and at least 25 clerks have called for help, Mr. Staver told The Associated Press.