Some Texas County Clerks Delay Licenses For Same-Sex Marriages The Supreme Court ruled last week that same-sex marriage is legal. In Texas, the attorney general told public officials they don't have to issue licenses if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.
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Some Texas County Clerks Delay Licenses For Same-Sex Marriages

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Some Texas County Clerks Delay Licenses For Same-Sex Marriages

Some Texas County Clerks Delay Licenses For Same-Sex Marriages

Some Texas County Clerks Delay Licenses For Same-Sex Marriages

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  • <iframe src="https://www.npr.org/player/embed/418776102/418776103" width="100%" height="290" frameborder="0" scrolling="no" title="NPR embedded audio player">
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The Supreme Court ruled last week that same-sex marriage is legal. In Texas, the attorney general told public officials they don't have to issue licenses if it conflicts with their religious beliefs.

RENEE MONTAGNE, HOST:

The Supreme Court ruling that declared a right to marriage for same-sex couples has not settled the issue everywhere. In Texas, the attorney general says county clerks do not have to issue licenses if they have a religious objection. So far, some counties in the state are giving out licenses, but dozens are not. From member station KUT in Austin, Veronica Zaragovia reports.

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CHUCK SMITH: Since we've been here this morning, Williamson County, Burnet, Milam, Denton County, Smith County and Tyler, Colin County.

UNIDENTIFIED WOMAN: All right.

VERONICA ZARAGOVIA, BYLINE: Chuck Smith spoke in front of the Texas State Capitol in Austin. This LGBT rights advocate doesn't normally get so excited over some Texas counties, but he's thrilled that these counties are now issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. He's far less enthusiastic about the Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton telling clerks they don't have to comply with the Supreme Court's marriage ruling.

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SMITH: It's political theater.

ZARAGOVIA: In Travis County, where Austin is located, almost 500 licenses for any kind of marriage have been issued in just two days. That's about 10 times the average amount. Other counties are holding off from licensing same-sex marriages, saying they still have incorrect forms. Some are citing religious grounds. Jonathan Saenz wants to protect them.

JONATHAN SAENZ: I can guarantee you that if it means that our organization and others have to go to court for days, weeks and years to fight for religious freedom rights of folks, we will absolutely do that.

ZARAGOVIA: Saenz is the president of Texas Values, a nonprofit that serves as a resource to officials on issues of conservative values. Saenz says five unelected judges are forcing their decision on a state that voted to ban same-sex marriage in 2005.

SAENZ: The only thing that should matter is when we actually went to the ballot box and decided this issue, how did the people vote?

ZARAGOVIA: Looking for more help in ending this debate, a Texas state senator has turned to Washington. State Sen. Rodney Ellis, a Houston Democrat, wrote a letter to U.S. Attorney General Loretta Lynch, asking her to step in if someone's constitutional rights are being violated.

RODNEY ELLIS: I want those county clerks to know that the full weight of the Department of Justice is behind securing the rights of people in Texas to be able to get married, regardless of their agenda, regardless of their orientation, regardless of their race.

ZARAGOVIA: Otherwise, he says, Texas judges might refuse to authorize divorces because it offends their religious sensibilities or even refuse to sentence a defendant to death because of the biblical command thou shalt not kill. For NPR News, I'm Veronica Zaragovia in Austin.

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