[vc_row][vc_column][vc_column_text]Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, a staunch defender of the rights of his state, is not going down without a fight. The Lone Star State’s top law enforcer has declared that despite the Supreme Court’s recent ruling that same-sex marriage is legal in all fifty states, employees are free to not issue marriage licenses to same-sex applicants.[/vc_column_text][banner300 banner=”5517620b381df”][vc_column_text]In a statement, Paxton announced the policy and claimed that the recent Supreme Court decision “stops at the door of the First Amendment” and that religious freedom trumps their ruling.
While the left has rejoiced at the supposed end to this debate, the fact is that this very well might be the beginning as conservatives ready themselves for a long fight that pits liberal concepts of “social justice” against longstanding institutions and the very freedom of religion codified and protected in the First Amendment.
“Indeed, for those who respect the rule of law, this lawless ruling presents a fundamental dilemma: A ruling by the U.S. Supreme Court is considered the law of the land, but a judge-made edict that is not based in the law or the Constitution diminishes faith in our system of government and the rule of law.
“Now hundreds of Texas public officials are seeking guidance on how to implement what amounts to a lawless decision by an activist Court while adhering both to their respective faiths and their responsibility to uphold and defend the U.S. Constitution.
“Importantly, the reach of the Court’s opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty. Even the flawed majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges acknowledged there are religious liberty protections of which individuals may be able to avail themselves. 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.”
“In the Attorney General’s opinion my office issued in response to Lt. Governor Patrick’s request for guidance, we find that although it fabricated a new constitutional right in 2015, the Supreme Court did not diminish, overrule, or call into question the First Amendment rights to free exercise of religion that formed the first freedom in the Bill of Rights in 1791. This newly invented federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage should peaceably coexist alongside longstanding constitutional and statutory rights, including the rights to free exercise of religion and speech. This opinion concludes that:
“County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.
“Justices of the peace and judges similarly retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection, because it is not the least restrictive means of the government ensuring the ceremonies occur. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”
The ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, many have noted, is more-rooted in what the justices feel should be law and not what is actually law. To that end, Paxton is defending his state’s sovereignty and has announced that lawyers will be provided to help keep state employees protected against federal litigation.
“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.
“Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness, and act on multiple levels to further protect religious liberties for all Texans, but most immediately do anything we can to help our County Clerks and public officials who now are forced with defending their religious beliefs against the Court’s ruling.”
While the rule of law absolutely must be defended and respected in the U.S., citizens are under no obligation to respect laws that run contrary to our constitutional protections that serve as the embodiments of enlightenment thinking, the crux of which is that our rights are derived from God, not mere mortals and certainly not government.
Abiding by a law or a ruling that runs contrary to our First Amendment liberties is no act of patriotism, but in fact, the opposite: it is an act of dogmatic statism that is premised upon the belief that government knows best and is the decider upon what is both just and moral.[/vc_column_text][/vc_column][/vc_row]