The Supreme Court ruled last week that states cannot keep same-sex couples from marrying and must recognize their unions. The historic decision was welcomed by many, but there was much criticism, too, especially in some conservative states.
In its majority opinion, the court said First Amendment protections were in place for those who object to same-sex marriage on religious grounds, and that they “may continue to advocate with utmost, sincere conviction that, by divine precepts, same-sex marriage should not be condoned.”
The court gave the losing side about three weeks to seek reconsideration.
State Attorney General Ken Paxton issued a statement Sunday saying state workers can refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples if doing so violates their religious beliefs.
Judges and state workers “may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections,” he said.
And, he added, while clerks who choose not to issue licenses “may well face litigation and/or a fine … numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis.”
Still, same-sex couples did receive marriage licenses Friday in the state’s biggest cities.
The state’s Clerks Association said it was advising clerks of court to wait for the end of the three-week period for the Supreme Court to consider a rehearing of the case. But The Associated Press reports that Jefferson Parish Clerk of Court Jon Geggenheimer said his office was issuing licenses as of Monday morning.
Gov. Bobby Jindal, who is seeking the Republican nomination for the presidency, has spoken out against same-sex marriage and the court’s decision, but said his state would comply with the ruling.
The AP reports that in Kansas, some counties are still refusing to comply with the ruling that gay and lesbian couples can marry.
“[T]he attorney general and Gov. Sam Brownback said they would study the Supreme Court ruling further before making any moves in a lawsuit over the state’s voter-passed ban,” the wire service reports.
In Alabama, state Supreme Court Chief Justice Roy Moore said Monday that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling is stalled during the reconsideration period.
AL.com reports that:
“Moore said the state Supreme Court today issued an order that effectively keeps probate judges from issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for 25 days. …
” ‘In that 25-day period that (U.S. Supreme Court) order is not in effect,’ Moore said. ‘The (Alabama Supreme Court order speaks for itself.’ ”
On Sunday, Moore said that last week’s decision went against the laws of nature. “Welcome to the new world. It’s just changed for you Christians,” he said. “You are going to be persecuted.”
In February, he had ordered the state’s probate judges not to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples when a federal appeals court ruled that gay marriage was legal in the state.
Prior to Friday’s ruling, the states that had laws banning same-sex marriage were Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, Tennessee and Texas.