(Editors note: Governor Greg Abbott has issued a directive to state agencies and employees to not violate religious beliefs in government decisions or actions realted to belief on marriage. See governor’s statement made Friday afternoon June 26 here. In it he says the government must never pressure a person to abandon or violate his or her sincerely held relgious beliefs regarding a top such as marriage…”)
In a 5-4 ruling, the U S Supreme Court ruled that states cannot ban same-sex marriage. Fourteen (14) states that did not allow same-sex marriage are affected. The decision was announced Friday morning June 26, 2015. Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote the opinion for the majority. Justice John Roberts wrote the dissent. The United States becomes the 21st nation in the world to permit same-sex marriage in every jurisdiction of the nation.
In Dallas County, the clerk’s office began issuing marriage license immediately. Denton County did not stating that they would need to print the proper forms and must await their vendor providing those forms.
In Hopkins County, County Judge Robert Newsom told KSST News that he had read only a portion of the ruling make today. He said it appears the Supreme Court has ruled in favor of same sex marriage. However, Newsom said there could be a motion for reconsideration within the next three weeks. He stated the impact of the ruling will not be known until late July or early August or until the State of Texas instructs local government to conform to the ruling. He said the immediate impact would be that the County Clerk would begin issuing marriage license without gender bias. Newsom also said that Justices of the Peace will face an issue of firm religious belief verses the state ruling. He pointed out that the state legislature had passed legislation that protects the rights of religious ministers in this instance. If their beliefs do not allow them to perform same-sex marriage, they will be allowed to refuse. Newsom pointed to past precedence of state employees being allowed to act or fail to act based on religious beliefs. However, he isn’t sure how this Court ruling will affect that situation.
Local Justices of the Peace, Newsom said, are both Christians. One JP, B J Teer, is a licensed Baptist minister. Neither JP chose to comment to KSST News today but did state they would make comments on Monday of next week.
Newsom does think the ruling will have impact across the nation. “It will impact our society,” he said. He said the county was not prepared for the ruling. He has instructed the County Clerk to wait until the State of Texas informs local government how to react.
County Clerk Debbie Shirley said that the mandate to comply would come later in the year. She said when she received her directive she would seek new forms for application and license to issue marriage license.