With the Texas attorney general suggesting local officials with religious objections can opt out of granting gay marriage licenses, a state Democratic lawmaker is calling on the Department of Justice to monitor Texas’ implementation of the Supreme Court decision that legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.
“Officials who take an oath to uphold the Constitution should not be able to deny Texans’ constitution rights with the backing of state legal guidance,” state Sen. Rodney Ellis wrote to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch Monday.
Ellis, a Democrat from Houston, asked the feds to keep an eye on the state’s implementation of the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision and to “intervene, if necessary” if gay couples’ civil rights are being violated in the name of religion.
On Sunday, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) issued a nonbinding legal opinion that offered religious accommodations to clerks and justices of the peace who objected to same-sex marriage, and said that his office would even help with their defense if legal claims were brought against them.
“I have serious concerns about the far-reaching implications of this blanket protection for officials who may chose to ignore the law based on their personal religious beliefs,” Ellis wrote to Lynch. “Will judges be able to argue that they should not recognize or authorize divorces if it offends their religious sensibilities? Could a judge refuse to send a defendant to the death penalty under his or her belief that ‘thou shalt not kill’ means just that?”
Read the full letter below: