I cannot believe the Texas Senate is considering a bill such as the one it is considering.
Senators are debating whether to allow county clerks to deny gay couples a marriage license.
Let’s see. How is this supposed to work?
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled two years ago in a landmark decision that gay marriage is protected under the equal protection clause of the U.S. Constitution. It ruled that every state in the country should allow same-sex couples to marry, which requires them to obtain the legal documentation necessary to become married — just as straight couples are required to do.
The highest court in the nation — to which Texas belongs — ruled that gay marriage is legal.
County clerks, thus, are required to obey the oath they take to honor the laws of the land. Isn’t that right? A handful of county clerks quit their posts rather than perform the duties required of them as a result of the court ruling. Those who remain, though, must fulfill the oath they take — regardless, it seems to me, of their own religious conviction.
Amarillo straddles a border separating Randall and Potter counties. Renee Calhoun and Julie Smith, who serve as county clerks in Randall and Potter counties, respectively, both declared they would issue licenses to gay couples who requested them.
Given the political nature of this discussion, I feel compelled to note that both Calhoun and Smith are Republicans. A healthy majority of Republicans are inclined to oppose gay marriage as a matter of principle, relying on their belief in biblical assertions that marriage should be performed only between one man and one woman.
To my way of thinking, there shouldn’t even be a bill considered in the Texas Legislature that would give county clerks an “out” if they chose to deny gay couples a license to marry.
The Supreme Court of the United States, acting as the final arbiter on these constitutional matters, has decided the issue once and for all. Gay marriage is legal and county clerks ought to be required to do the job to which they swore an oath to perform faithfully.
I must stipulate that they swear their allegiance to the Constitution, as secular a governing document as any ever enacted.