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Patrick, Paxton weigh in on Supreme Court ruling

by | Jul 1, 2015 | Opinion

Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick made the following statement regarding the Texas Attorney General’s opinion clarifying the First Amendment religious liberty rights of governmental officials involved in issuing same-sex marriage licenses and conducting same-sex wedding ceremonies:

“On Thursday I made a request to Attorney General Ken Paxton for a legal opinion on how local elected officials would be impacted if the Supreme Court ruled gay marriage the law of the land. Today, I commend Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton for his quick and comprehensive opinion on the very important issue regarding protecting public employees’ rights. As I had hoped when I requested this opinion, General Paxton has affirmed that county clerks, judges and Justices of the Peace do in fact retain religious freedom to object.

“No public employee, judge or Justice of the Peace should be forced to participate in activity contrary to the covenants of their sincerely held religious beliefs.”

The following was released by Texas Values (www.txvalues.org) on June 26, 2015

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has released his official Attorney General Opinion regarding the “rights of government officials involved with issuing same-sex marriage licenses and conducting same-sex wedding ceremonies.” The opinion was in response to the formal request filed early this week by Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick seeking clarification of the religious freedom rights of county clerks, Justices of the Peace and judges on same-sex ‘marriage’ decisions. Only a small number of Texas counties are actually issuing same-sex ‘marriage’ licenses after the U. S. Supreme Court ruling on Friday and there are reports of county clerks being pressured to violate their religious beliefs on this issue. Texas’ marriage law was not before the Court for a decision.

Paxton’s opinion says in part:

“County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

“Justices of the peace and judges similarly retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection…”

The U. S. Supreme Court did not say that the First Amendment has been repealed just because they issued a decision on gay ‘marriage’. Citizens shouldn’t be forced to surrender their First Amendment rights just because they work for the government. All Texans should be free to believe and should not be forced by the government to violate their sincerely held religious belief that marriage is between one man and woman. We thank Attorney General Paxton for his leadership on this issue.

If you have questions regarding the Attorney General’s Opinion, please call 512-478-2220.

Also, on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott issued a directive to state agencies and employees, ordering respect for religious freedom following the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex ‘marriage’. Gov. Abbott’s statement says in part:

“Texans of all faiths must be absolutely secure in the knowledge that their religious freedom is beyond the reach of government. Renewing and reinforcing that promise is all the more important in light of the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. The government must never pressure a person to abandon or violate his or her sincerely held religious beliefs regarding a topic such as marriage…This order applies to any agency decision, including but not limited to granting or denying benefits, managing agency employees, entering or enforcing agency contracts, licensing and permitting decisions, or enforcing state laws and regulations.”

Texas Values states its mission as protecting marriage and the religious freedom of all Texans.

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