This post has been updated.
The Supreme Court ruling that same-sex couples across the U.S. have the right to marry left officials in Texas reeling.
Following the ruling, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott (R) issued a directive on Friday ordering state agencies to “prioritize compliance” with the First Amendment and Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The directive states that agencies should make sure that nobody “takes any adverse action against” people “substantially motivated by sincere religious belief.”
“The law protects religious liberty not only in houses of worship—but also in schools, in businesses, in the military, in public forums, and in the town square. These protections are afforded to all people, of all faiths,” Abbott wrote in the directive. “Yet in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, the law’s promise of religious liberty will be tested by some who seek to silence and marginalize those whose conscience will not allow them to participate in or endorse marriages that are incompatible with their religious beliefs.”
In a statement blasting the Supreme Court’s decision earlier on Friday, Abbott said that he would take direct action to protect the religious liberties of Texas residents.
“As I have done in the past, I will continue to defend the religious liberties of all Texans—including those whose conscience dictates that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. Later today, I will be issuing a directive to state agencies instructing them to prioritize the protection of Texans’ religious liberties,” he said in a statement.
Abbott wrote that the Supreme Court has become “an unelected nine-member legislature.”
“Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire country their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States,” he said. “Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage.”
The state’s attorney general also expressed concern that the ruling could lead to intolerance of certain religious beliefs.
“The truth is that the debate over the issue of marriage has increasingly devolved into personal and economic aggression against people of faith who have sought to live their lives consistent with their sincerely-held religious beliefs about marriage,” Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said in a Friday statement. “This ruling will likely only embolden those who seek to punish people who take personal, moral stands based upon their conscience and the teachings of their religion.”
“It is not acceptable that people of faith be exposed to such abuse,” he continued. “Displays of hate and intolerance against people of faith should be denounced by all people of good will and spark concern among anyone who believes in religious liberty and freedom for all.”
Though he disapproved of the ruling, Paxton said that Texas would be following the Supreme Court ruling, and county clerks in Texas began issuing marriage licenses to gay couples on Friday.