On Monday, Republican Texas State Representative and State Senate candidate David Simpson issued a news release calling on Governor Greg Abbott to convene a special session of the Texas Legislature to consider a bill that would get government officials out of the marriage licensing business following Friday’s landmark Supreme Court case legalizing same-sex marriage.
“In light of the Supreme Court’s actions, I believe that the best way to protect marriage is to divorce marriage from government. I am asking the governor to recall the legislature so that legislation may be immediately considered to remove state and local officials from the process of issuing marriage licenses. In its place, the process of issuing a certificate of marriage will be performed by any willing clergy member consistent with their conscience and in respect for our culture and our heritage. For those who do not wish to have a religious ceremony, any authorized notary may approve a certificate,” said Representative Simpson.
Representative Simpson’s call for a special session comes on the heels of a Sunday statement by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton that appeared to encourage county clerks and judges who oppose same-sex marriage to refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. “County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may provide accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Justices of the peace and judges also may claim that the government forcing them to conduct same sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, particularly when other authorized individuals have no objection to conducting such ceremonies, is not the least restrictive means of furthering any compelling governmental interest in ensuring that such ceremonies occur,” said Paxton in a legal opinion statement.
USA Today points out the fact that Paxton clarified, “It is important to note that any clerk who wishes to defend their religious objections and who chooses not to issue licenses may well face litigation and/or a fine. But, numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs, in many cases on a pro-bono basis, and I will do everything I can from this office to be a public voice for those standing in defense of their rights.”
Representative Simpson’s statement on abolishing marriage licensing implied that he is opposed to same-sex marriage. “I cannot and I will not sit idly by while unelected judges redefine the sacred institution of marriage and force our county and state officials to violate their most cherished beliefs. Marriage is a divinely instituted tradition as old as humanity. Government marriage is just another government program and a modern failure. Government has cheapened it, redefined it, and parceled it out for profit. As a Christian, I call on every Texan to reject this aberration and contact the governor to take swift action to end it,” said Simpson.
However, considering the fact that Texas lawmakers appear to be actively protecting county clerks and judges who refuse to perform same-sex marriages, Simpson’s legislative push to abolish marriage licensing could solve that problem by removing those officials from the process entirely, allowing same-sex couples to have their marriages certified instead by a notary.