Harris County clerk not ready for gay marriage

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Judges in Houston are ready to marry gay couples, but Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart says he's in no rush to give them applications if the Supreme Court “destroys” marriage.

County clerks in Bexar, Dallas, Tarrant and Travis counties are prepared to grant licenses to gay couples if the Supreme Court legalizes gay marriage in the 13 states, like Texas, that don't have it. But Stanart (photo), a Republican who opposes gay marriage, says he'll press pause and wait on guidance from state officials.

Via the Houston Chronicle:

“I shouldn't be making up law or processes that are controlled by the state,” Stanart said ahead of the Supreme Court's ruling, adding that he would not offer extended business hours to handle a potential influx of applicants and would not move to modify the state's license application form to accommodate applicants of the same gender.

Stanart first objected to the Supreme Court messing with his marriages in a June 8 interview with the Houston Press: 

Back in February state Attorney Gen. Ken Paxton responded to the first same-sex marriage held in Texas by immediately filing a request with the Texas Supreme Court to void the marriage, so he might just possibly be against any ruling that would make same-sex marriage legal everywhere in the United States. Stanart seems to be counting on that. “I'm going to have to follow whatever the state attorney general's guidance is. They're destroying an institution, the institution of marriage, but I'll follow what the current law of the land is,” he says.

But maybe he'll come around. At some point. Via the Texas Observer:

Stanart said he personally opposes same-sex marriage but will issue licenses if Texas’ marriage bans are ultimately overturned.

“My duty is to the law, not necessarily to provide a loophole,” Stanart said.

Harris County judges, though, are ready to start marrying same-sex couples. 

Via the Houston Chronicle:

“As long as they have a valid Texas marriage license, then I don't believe that it's my job to make any kind of value decision as to whether these two people should be married,” said Don Coffey, a Harris County justice of the peace in Precinct 3, which covers Baytown. “I would think, and I would hope, that my colleagues would view it in the same way.”

Fellow justice of the peace in the East End's Precinct 6, Armando Rodriguez, agreed.

“We're elected to apply the law, not interpret it,” he said.

Although private citizens may decline to perform marriages that would cause them to “violate a sincerely held religious belief,” in accordance with the “Pastor Protection Act” signed into Texas law earlier this month, that exception does not extend to state officials.

Dale Gorczynski, justice of the peace in Precinct 1, even wants to be the first to marry a gay couple. His daughter, a lesbian, has already married.

“I would consider it an honor,” he told the Chronicle.

And scores of officiants in Houston and across Texas are ready to marry gay couples. Check the full list here.

[photo via On the Beat]


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