In a stunning move, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton bucked the Supreme Court and declared that county clerks have the right to refuse to perform a same-sex marriage if they have a religious objection to doing so, according to the Statesman.
This legal opinion comes after the Supreme Court controverted the decisions of a majority of state governments and their citizens and imposed gay marriage on the entire country, offering little to no protection to Christians and others who may have sincere, faith-based objections to the practice.
Paxton did warn that clerks who refuse to issue gay marriage licenses can be sued; however, he added that “numerous lawyers stand ready to assist clerks defending their religious beliefs,” in many cases without charge.
The Texas AG issued a scathing rebuke of the Supreme Court’s decision, arguing that it put Christian officials in the impossible situation of choosing between following the U.S. Constitution and their faith.
“Friday, the United States Supreme Court again ignored the text and spirit of the Constitution to manufacture a right that simply does not exist. In so doing, the court weakened itself and weakened the rule of law, but did nothing to weaken our resolve to protect religious liberty and return to democratic self-government in the face of judicial activists attempting to tell us how to live,” Paxton stated.
He also said that “judges and justices of the peace have no mandatory duty to conduct any wedding ceremony,” only that they cannot refuse to perform a wedding on the basis of race, religion, or national origin.
“The reach of the court’s opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty,” Paxton contended. “Our religious liberties find protection in state and federal constitutions and statutes. While they are indisputably our first freedom, we should not let them be our last.”
One of the crucial concepts in Protestant political thought is the doctrine of the “lesser magistrates,” first articulated by John Calvin but formalized in the Lutheran Magdeburg Confession of 1550.
Essentially, it posits that subordinate governing powers – which in our context would be state and local officials like governors, attorneys general, and probate judges – exist to resist lawless higher authorities.
If there was ever a time to invoke this doctrine, it would be now.