Texas A.G. Ken Paxton Orders State Officials to Violate Texas’ Religious Freedom Law

RFRA

Only in 21st Century on orders from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB), evangelical fundamentalist clergy, and the Republican Party is the idea that religious freedom means eliminating Constitutionally-guaranteed equal and civil rights from other Americans. It is beyond dispute that the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s framers never meant that any person’s religious freedom allowed them to deny other Americans their Constitutional civil rights, because if that had been their intent they would have created a theocracy with the Christian bible as the law of the land. If that had been the case, they would have elucidated, in the starkest terms, that ‘free exercise of religion” meant that a citizen clutching a bible to their bosom had unquestioned authority to control the lives of other Americans. Really, if the Founders had any foresight into the  21st Century evangelical mindset, and the USCCB’s twisted ugly interpretation of the 1st Amendment’s religious freedom clause, they would have included a subsection that forbade any American, state legislature, or Republican Congress from using religious freedom to deny other Americans’ their equal and civil rights.

What is astonishing, and it is truly stunning, is that where the Founding Fathers and Constitution’s Framers fell woefully short of protecting future generations from religious tyranny in the 1st Amendment, Texas legislators saw the danger of religious fanaticism and wrote their own Religious Freedom Restoration Act. The reason the Texas RFRA is the model for the entire nation, is the important provision written into the law that forbade fake Christians from using “their religious freedom” to abridge any other Texans’ civil rights; including the right to marry the person they love. It is unbelievable, but true.

The Texas version of the federal Religious Freedom Restoration Act includes an important clause stipulating that “a person with religious objections to a particular law or employment obligation cannot invoke RFRA to override civil rights laws and statutes.” In fact, in the case of marriages, no matter who applies for a marriage license, the Texas Family Code, Section 2.205 specifically asserts that any Texan with the authority to perform marriages in the state are expressly “prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, or national origin against any applicant who is otherwise competent to be married.”

It is prescient that the top law enforcement officer in Texas, Republican Attorney General Ken Paxton, is either completely ignorant of the provisions ensconced in the Texas RFRA, or he is aware of the law’s protection of Texans’ civil rights and still says they do not apply to the LGBT community because…bible, god, religious freedom, judicial tyranny, and opposition to the U.S. Constitution. After the Supreme Court ruling affirming that the Constitution’s 14th Amendment guarantees equal and civil rights for all Americans, including gays wanting to marry, Paxton did what Christofascist Republicans across the nation pledged to do and informed Texas officials that the Texas RFRA guaranteed their religious freedom to ignore the High Court ruling, the Constitution, and Texas’  RFRA and deny gays the right to marry on religious objection grounds.

The Supreme Court ruling that “graciously” extended  equal protection and due process protections under the 14th Amendment to LGBT Americans apparently does not apply in Paxton’s religious mind. Last week, according to “an official opinion” issued by Texas’ Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, attorney general Paxton ruled that state employees such as county clerks and their employees still have Texas-sized religious freedom to disobey the Supreme Court ruling, ignore the 14th  Amendment, and violate the Texas’ Religious Freedom Restoration Act based on their bigoted “religious objections” to gays marrying the person they love.  The Paxton interpretation of the High Court ruling, U.S. Constitution, and Texas RFRA informed him that state employees can refuse to issue a marriage license to same-sex couples if doing so is religiously objectionable.

As if he did not appear ignorant enough, Paxton actually supported his “official ruling” by citing the same Religious Freedom Restoration Act that theocratic Republican states passed specifically to discriminate against gays seeking to marry. The federal RFRA requires only that pursuing a “compelling government interest” must not “substantially burden” an individual’s religious exercise if that government interest can be pursued by “less restrictive means.” The High Court granting 14th Amendment equal and due process rights to same-sex couples, or Texas officials issuing marriage licenses does not “substantially burden” any individual’s free exercise of religion; particularly when their job issuing marriage licenses does not abridge their right to pray, worship, or frequent the local tax-exempt mega-church.

Still, Paxton, like most Republicans and evangelical fanatics, is not going to be deterred from attempting to use religion to discriminate against same-sex couples because in his mind the Constitution, Supreme Court rulings, and the Texas RFRA are a violation of religious freedom.  However, Paxton has no religious objection to other Texas marriage provisions that some people, especially religious people, would certainly find objectionable.

For example, One Texas law states that a child can get married at 14 if a judge gives them permission. According to the Texas Family Code, Sec. 2.103, any minor who is 14 years old can get court authority to supersede their parent’s objections and freely receive a state marriage license. Under another Texas law, two people can get an “informal marriage license” if they ever lied and told someone they were married even though they were not “officially” wed.  Texas Family Code, Section 2.401 states that “if a couple has declared at some general time that they are, in fact, married, and then tell other folks that they are married,” the local county clerk’s office has to issue an “informal marriage license” even if they were never married.

Now, what if a county clerk or state employee has deeply-held religious objections to 14 year olds getting married against their parent’s objections, or object to two people getting a marriage license after lying about being married while they lived in sin? In Texas it is just too bad; state law says they have a right to marry and according to the Texas RFRA a state employee cannot use their religious objection to abridge any Texans’ civil right to marry.

However, if the Supreme Court rules that according to the Constitution two people of the same gender want to marry, despite the Texas RFRA forbidding any Texas’ official from using their religion to refuse to issue a marriage license, the state’s attorney general supports violating the Constitution, a Supreme Court ruling, and Texas’ RFRA because he believes his religion is the law of the land.

30 Replies to “Texas A.G. Ken Paxton Orders State Officials to Violate Texas’ Religious Freedom Law”

  1. this isn’t just a slippery slope but a bloody great ice slide. This is not going to end well.

  2. Kinda makes me wish, as an atheist, to be a county clerk in Texas- and deny christians marriage licenses…

  3. Paxton must be thinking of running for president as a republican! There I explained it. Although he’s getting a little ahead of himself, he needs to become govenor of Texas first.

  4. Gov. Abbott signed a law “protecting” clergy from being forced to officiate a gay wedding. Haven’t heard anything about where he stands on the clerk/license issue.

  5. Edit button wouldn’t work …

    Just found where he ordered all state agencies to “protect” the religious rights of their staff. Even quoted the RFRA – guess he didn’t read it either.

  6. And what if issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples isn’t religiously objectionable for Texas state employees, is AG Paxton going to have a problem with this too?

  7. i was watching a movie from the sixties, and one of the characters was talking about the same b.s. from texas. the same crap we have today. how many years do we real america have to put up with these regressive fake jesus texans. without texas, the usa would be much better off. [ok, galveston and austin are great]. our only hope next year is the hispanics in tx. vote! if the eligible texan hispanics vote, all their gerrymandering and voter suppression will mean nothing. i am so tired of these low info losers telling anyone in the real usa, how its going to be…

  8. Ken Paxton’s only thinking about TX
    curb appeal before making a real estate
    pitch to Vladimir Putin.[WINK]

  9. Why do these Republican yahoo’s continue to think they are above law. I’m hoping that he and everyone else who refuses to obey the law, be charged and prosecuted. It’s not about religion, it’s about hatred and evilness. And the time has come to set an example.

  10. Can Texans also select whichever State laws they don’t want to comply with on the basis of THEIR religious beliefs…?

  11. I’m sure the Justice Department will try to work with Texas and arrive at some sort of compromise (eg. one clerk can opt out if someone else in the office approves the registration). But if they can’t come to an agreement legal action will be instituted, you can depend on it.

  12. I’ll keep this short, TEXASS is just your typical RED STATE, always talking $HIT! always trying to flaunt it’s WHITE PRIVILEGE mentality!! always proving it utter lack of basic knowledge and civility! Oh and like ALL RED STATES, they’re WELFARE MOOCHERS!! texas is ranked 24th Wanna hear something funny? out of the BOTTOM 15 in mooching, 12 of them are RED STATES! mississippi, alabama, georgia, kentucky, montana, arizona, louisiana, south dakota, south carolina, tennessee, west virginia, wyoming. WHAT SAY YOU, republican TROLLS?? YOU WELFARE BUMS!!

  13. Riddle me this, said Batman! “whats pompous, arrogant, and CLAIMS to be the saviors of fiscal responsibility??” THE GOP!! but if that’s true, WHY are RED STATES so FU#KING POOR and always sucking governments TEETS?! because Robin! the GOP is a damn con game! and even most of it’s victims are too STUPID to realize they’re being fleeced! WOW! Batman! so I guess the GOP is like Robin Hood! only they steal from the POOR and give to the rich!! YOU got it BOY WONDER! now fire up the batmobile! We’re gonna go chat with chris christie!, or rick perry! or george bush jr. or dick cheney or rick scott! LMFAO hell, lets just bust the entire GOP!

  14. I thought the top law enforcement officer in Texas was Buford T. Justice.

    This is just silly Texans doing and saying silly things.

  15. “The High Court granting 14th Amendment equal and due process rights to same-sex couples, or Texas officials issuing marriage licenses does not “substantially burden” any individual’s free exercise of religion; particularly when their job issuing marriage licenses does not abridge their right to pray, worship, or frequent the local tax-exempt mega-church.”

    Nor does a “deeply held religious belief” prevent a person from CHANGING JOBS if one has a “religious objection” to becoming involved in a gay marriage.

    It seems that over the course of the last 6 years, I heard many TEAtards, from Texas and elsewhere, make the statement that those who found it difficult to earn a decent (ie above the poverty line) wage, that they should just CHOOSE another line of work.

    Well that works in this case as well.
    If you have “religious objections” to becoming involved in gay marriages, then GET ANOTHER JOB ! !

  16. huh. Since when has ANY clergyman (or clergywoman)been forced to officiate at ANY wedding what-so-ever? Churches refuse to marry people ALL THE TIME and have done so FOREVER – for what ever reason.

    Nothing in the SCOTUS decision changes that in any way what-so-ever. Church weddings are totally unaffected except to increase the range of services they may themselves CHOOSE to offer their parishioners.

  17. Bigotry and intolerance in the name of “states’ rights” and “religious liberty”? Where have we heard this before?

    Why is it that so many conservative politicians are anxious to repeat the mistakes of the past by becoming this era’s version of George Wallace?

  18. I think the Texas AG and Lieutenant Governor need to be found in contempt of court. The SCOTUS has made its’ decision. Most of us don’t like the Citizens United decision, but how many state AG’s have said that they don’t need follow it?

  19. Texas, otherwise known as Stupidstan, who’s governing party is Y’all Qaeda and yeehawd has been waged on women and minorities. I do truly feel for that small bastion of progressives, Austin and also San Antonio…

  20. …Texas wants to flaunt thier utter contempt of Federal Law??? Initiate a 30 day emergency evacuation of all liberals and progressives; then send all the teatards/teahadists/neoconartists around the country TO Texas…and get everything off of those bases!!!
    …then ensure that any trade agreements are those offered to any hostile nation…
    …how long before the people of Texas kill off the Anti-American Party themselves and beg to come back???

  21. Some great comments on the thread….

    Ya know, it’d be nice if the VOTING majority of the GOP, the Progressives and Moderates, rose up against the lunatic minority (Cons, Teaidjits and Firebaggers—Libertarians) and launched the second Republican Progressive and Moderate Revolution by voting for Democrats instead of staying home in “protest” of their Fascist and corrupt party.

    What say you, GOP “Progs” and “Mods”? Are you tired of this Fascist bullshit from your party’s politicians?

  22. And you wonder who votes for these idiots?
    Warned About Alligators, Man Yells ‘F*ck The Alligators!’ Guess What?

    Tragedy? struck in Texas when one man lost his life after being killed by an alligator after jumping into a lake.

    The man in question, 28 year old Tommie Woodward, mocked warning signs cautioning against getting in the water because of the alligator before jumping in and meeting a grizzly end.
    He’s the first person to be killed by an alligator in Texas since 1836. So at least he set a record
    http://crooksandliars.com/2015/07/warned-about-alligators-man-yells-fck

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