Little by little, Ken Paxton is being forced to see the light. The recalcitrant Texas attorney general, ever steadfast in his refusal to accept the wisdom of the U.S. Supreme Court, is beginning to acknowledge its authority.
After the court legalized same-sex marriage nationwide in June, Paxton issued an opinion that basically endorsed county clerks who defied the law, as long as they promised they were sincere about why they were doing it. Hood County Clerk Katie Lang got sued after she refused to issue a license to a same-sex couple. Rusk County Clerk Joyce Lewis-Kugle quit rather than give them out. Molly Crimer, county clerk in Irion County, still hasn't issued a license and is waiting to get sued.
As for Paxton himself? Well, he quit one of his biggest personal battles late Monday.
In March, as the U.S. Department of Labor readied to change its definition of "spouse," Paxton sued the agency in U.S. District Court. The Labor Department wanted to make sure that all spouses, regardless of sex, were covered under the federal Family Medical Leave Act, no matter where they happened to live. Paxton really, really didn't want that to happen.
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"This lawsuit is about defending the sovereignty of our state, and we will continue to protect Texas from the unlawful overreach of the federal government. The newly revised definition of 'spouse' under the FMLA is in direct violation of state and federal laws and U.S. Constitution," Paxton said after filing the suit and instructing state agency heads to ignore the change. "Texans have clearly defined the institution of marriage in our state, and attempts by the Obama Administration to disregard the will of our citizens through the use of new federal rules is unconstitutional and an affront to the foundations of federalism."
Paxton was joined in his suit by the attorneys general of Arkansas, Georgia, Louisiana and Nebraska. Now, in light of the Supreme Court ruling, they've all given up their fight, voluntarily dismissing the case they brought.
According to information obtained from Paxton's office by the Texas Tribune, the state spent more than $26,000 on the case before dropping it.