Attorney General Ken Paxton writes, in a non-binding opinion, that county officials who don’t want to give a license to a gay couple because of religious objections don’t have to.
However, if the go-to person for marriage licenses in a county won’t deal with a same-sex marriage, there has to be somebody else around who will.
“So this would not allow a county clerk’s office, as a whole, to refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses” said Charles “Rocky” Rhodes, a South Texas College of Law professor.
Attorney General Paxton is offering lawyers, who don’t work for the state but will work for free, to counties that are sued for not marrying gay couples. But any county that faces such a lawsuit will most certainly lose.
“And if the county clerk’s office continues to resist, it may be held in contempt, and could have to pay the challengers’ attorneys’ fees,” Professor Rhodes said.
But all of that hinges on a gay couple filing a legal challenge against the specific county that refuses to marry them. Rhodes said without that lawsuit, any county that won’t issue a marriage license to a same-sex couple can keep up that policy, as if the Supreme Court ruling never happened.