U.S. Conservatives resist gay marriage ruling; Texas defiant

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Conservatives in the United States (U.S.), on Saturday, responded forcefully to the Supreme Court decision legalising gay marriage, but nowhere more so than in Texas, which openly defied the ruling.
“No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage,” said Texas Republican Governor Greg Abbott.
Resistance to the ruling was deep-felt across the conservative spectrum and in many of the 14 states, including Texas, Mississippi and Louisiana, which have had laws forbidding same sex marriage. To opponents of gay marriage, religious liberty trumps the Supreme Court.
“No court can overturn natural law. Nature and Nature’s God, hailed by the signers of our Declaration of Independence as the very source of law, cannot be usurped by the edict of a court, even the United States Supreme Court,” said Frank Perkins, president of the Family Research Council.
In a directive to all Texas state agencies that he issued after the court’s decision, Abbott, who was the state attorney general before being elected governor last year, said that religious liberty would take priority over the legalisation of gay marriage — potentially stopping the issuance of same-sex licences and enabling officials to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies.
“The government must never pressure a person to abandon or violate his or her sincerely held religious beliefs regarding a topic such as marriage,” Abbott said.
Texas banned same-sex marriage in a 2005 constitutional amendment.
Abbott’s memo forbids retaliation against anyone who refuses to implement the Supreme Court decision, although numerous jurisdictions in urban areas, such as Houston’s Harris County and San Antonio’s Bexar County began issuing licences to gay couples.
But Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton personified the state’s hierarchy in its opposition, saying “no court, no law, no rule, and no words will change the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman.”
Matt Angle, executive director of the Lone Star Project, a Democratic PAC, said of Texas leaders, “What they’re doing now is George Wallace-like. They are intentionally blocking compliance with the law of the land.”
The late Alabama Governor George Wallace famously stood in the schoolhouse door of the University of Alabama in 1963 to keep it segregated, despite the Supreme Court’s desegregation decision in Brown v. Board of Education, which integrated public schools.
The Human Rights Campaign, the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender organization, wrote the Texas leaders and those of the other states with laws against gay marriage urging immediate implementation of the court’s ruling.
“Delaying the issuance of marriage licences to same-sex couples is not only unlawful, but allows the discriminatory impacts of an unconstitutional law to continue,” said HRC Legal Director, Sarah Warbelow.
But in the Magnolia State, Mississippi Attorney General Jim Hunt said, the decision “is not immediately effective in Mississippi.” A circuit judge had issued a stay on an order lifting the state’s same-sex marriage ban and Hunt said the state cannot proceed until the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals lifts it, a process that could take several days or more.
In Louisiana, Attorney General James D. “Buddy” Caldwell said, he was “extremely disappointed” by the ruling.
“It fails to respect traditional marriage as defined by Louisiana voters, and is yet another example of the federal government intrusion into what should be a state issue,” he said.
Moreover, Caldwell said, “the Attorney General’s office said that it has found nothing in today’s decision that makes the court’s order effective immediately. Therefore, there is not yet a legal requirement for officials to issue marriage licences or perform marriages for same-sex couples in Louisiana.”
Kentucky, by contrast, which has banned gay marriage since 2004, quickly moved to issue licences. Kentucky Democratic Governor Steven Beshear sent a letter to all the county clerks in the state, saying that the state “must license and recognise the marriages of same-sex couples.”
“Neither your oath nor the Supreme Court dictates what you must believe,” said Beshear. “But as elected officials, they do prescribe how we must act.”
*Culled from Reuters

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