Dallas County has not issued its first same-sex marriage license yet, but it appears it's only a matter of time. County Clerk John Warren is meeting now with staff from the District Attorney's Office, but he has reportedly said he could begin issuing licenses within an hour or two, defying Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton. County judges will also waive the 72-hour waiting period typically required for marriages.
Paxton has signaled a willingness to engage in John C. Calhoun-style state nullification with regard to same-sex marriage. Thursday, he instructed county clerks to be patient in the wake of a Supreme Court decision.
"To be clear — the law in the state of Texas is that marriage is one man and one woman, and the position of this office is that the United States Constitution clearly does not speak to any right to marriage other than one man and one woman and that the First Amendment clearly protects religious liberty and the right to believe in traditional marriage without facing discrimination. If the Court suggests otherwise, prudence dictates we reflect on precisely what the Court says, what it means, and how to proceed consistent with the rule of law," Paxton said.
The Supreme Court's decision requires all states to issue marriage licenses for same-sex couples in addition to recognizing same-sex unions from other states.
"The Fourteenth Amendment requires a State to license a marriage between two people of the same sex," Supreme Court Justice Anthony Kennedy said, writing for a 5-4 majority.
In 2004, Massachusetts was the first state to legalize same-sex marriage. Texas adopted a constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage the next year, in 2005. As of Thursday, same-sex marriage was legal in 37 states and Washington, DC. Now, it's legal throughout the country.
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Dan Patrick, Texas' Lieutenant Governor, has already requested an opinion from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton about the "religious liberties of [Texas'] county clerks."
Governor Greg Abbott issued an unsurprising response:
Marriage was defined by God. No man can redefine it. We will defend our religious liberties. #tcot— Greg Abbott (@GregAbbott_TX) June 26, 2015