Maxey files complaint against Paxton with state bar

Posted on 04 Jul 2015 at 1:53pm

Glen MaxeyFormer state Rep. Glen Maxey filed a complaint against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton related to his opinion issued last weekend to county clerks. Paxton wrote that although same-sex couples would have to be accommodated, clerks could follow their religious beliefs and not issue the marriage licenses made legal by the U.S. Supreme Court.

Here’s a link to the full grievance.

From a press release sent by Maxey:

Paxton has violated the following Texas Disciplinary Rules of Professional Conduct. The violations are as follows:

*R 1.06(b)(2): Paxton has a conflict of interest because his representation of his client (the State) is conflicted with his own self-interest in demagogic self-promotion to pander to his right-wing Tea Party supporters, even at the sacrifice of the rights of Texans
under the United States Constitution.

*Rule 4.01(a): in representing his client (the State), Paxton has clearly made “false statement of law” to the public, in derogation of the fundamental Law of the Land, the United States Constitution.

*Rule 8.04(a)(1): in assisting and inducing Assistant Attorneys General to make knowingly false statements of fact and law in patently erroneous legal opinions that are flatly inconsistent with the United States Constitution, as declared by the United States Supreme Court.

*Rule 8.04(a)(3): in engaging in conduct involving deceit, dishonesty, and misrepresentation, in issuing the false and misleading opinion.

*Rule 8.04(a)(12): Mr. Paxton has violated the statutes setting out his official duties, including Government Code sections 402.041-402.042, by failing to issue an opinion setting out truthfully “the legal reasons and principles on which it is based.”

*Rules 8.04(a)(3), 8.04(a)(12): Finally, and most egregiously, Paxton violated his sworn oaths of office. Specifically, he violated the statutory oath that he took to become licensed to practice law in Texas. Section 82.037 of the Texas Government Code required Paxton to swear that he would “support the constitutions of the United States and this state.” He has violated both that oath and the United States Constitution.

Additionally, Mr. Paxton violated his State Oath of Office, required under Article 16, Section 1, of the Texas Constitution, in which he stated that he “will faithfully execute the duties of the office of Attorney General the State of Texas, and will to the best of my ability preserve, protect, and defend the Constitution and laws of the United States and of this State, so help me God.”

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Will there be a lawsuit after all?

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 8:18pm
Hood County Clerk Katie Lang

Hood County Clerk Katie Lang

Well, it appeared that Hood County Clerk Katie Lang was going to be able to avoid a lawsuit when, earlier this week, she changed her mind and said that her office would, indeed, be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. But looks like now there will be a lawsuit after all.

Even though Lang said Friday, June 26, after the Supreme Court’s ruling upholding marriage equality, that she would not allow those licenses to be issued. Her change of heart came Tuesday evening after news broke that a gay male couple denied a license by her office was going to file suit. Lang relented then and said that even though her religious beliefs prevented her from issuing those licenses herself, someone in her office would do so.

But today, when the men returned to the clerk’s office to apply for their license, they were told Hood County would not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples for three weeks. And then …. Well, I’ll just let Glen Maxey tell the story:

“Yee haw. We may have ourselves a federal lawsuit against recalcitrant clerks.
“Remember our drama with Clerk Lang in Hood County? Well, after saying she’d find a heathen in her office to issue licenses, when our gay couple arrived today they were told they wouldn’t be issuing gay licenses for three weeks. Needed new forms. And then Jan [Soifer] and Austin [Kaplan], our erstwhile fighters for justice big city lawyers arrived. Right there in Granbury, Hood County Texas. And they presented Clerk Lang with what’s called a ‘demand letter.’ In layman’s terms: Crap or get off the pot or we’ll sue your ass. Clerk Lang said no. Attorneys asked if a heterosexual couple walked in would they be able to get a license. YES. ‘Can we see the forms they would fill out?’ asks Jan. So that form says ‘Mr.’ and ‘M__’ where you, I guess, write an ‘rs’ for Mrs or a ‘s’ for Ms. Jan asks, ‘Why can’t we put an ‘r’ there for ‘Mr.’ Clerk: ‘NO, That would be altering a government document.’ Wait. Putting Mrs or Ms isn’t a problem and putting Mr. is??

“Well, maybe sourpuss Lang can read a demand letter. Because it says issue the good men a license or we’ll file a lawsuit on Monday morning. Hope she has a glorious July 4th weekend having a garage sale raising the money to pay for Jan and Austin’s lawyers fees when the federal judge tells her and every other clerk that AG Ken Paxton’s ‘I’m with Jesus’ defense just doesn’t cut it.”

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Public Employee Benefits Cooperative extends benefits to employees

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 5:11pm

pebcThanks to the good work by Resource Center and Fairness Fort Worth, the Public Employee Benefits Cooperative, which covers Dallas, Denton, Tarrant and Parker counties and North Texas Tollway Authority employees, has extended benefits to same sex spouses and dependent children effective immediately.

Earlier this week multiple state systems ranging from the Teachers Retirement System to the University of Texas Systems announced similar plans following the Supreme Court ruling legalizing marriage equality.

 

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New anti-marriage ad is quite entertaining

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 4:49pm
Screen shot 2015-07-02 at 4.47.29 PM

Totally not gay guy talking about being for marriage discrimination

A new anti-marriage ad was posted by YouTube by CatholicVote.

A group of people who don’t realize they’re gay or lesbian get emotional talking about marriage being between a man and a woman. Well, they don’t really talk about it. They just say it and then get emotional being alone.

Of course they’re alone. A majority of Catholics in this country favor marriage equality.

Watch the video here. It’s really very entertaining. Maybe a couple of these guys will find themselves a boyfriend.

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TCDRS: More Texas compliance with marriage ruling

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 1:48pm

Screen shot 2015-07-02 at 1.46.04 PMWith all this compliance with the Texas marriage rulings, our governor’s head must be spinning. Here’s the latest from Texas County and District Retirement System:

 

 

TCDRS Compliant With Same-Sex Marriage Decision


At the Texas County & District Retirement System, members can designate their legal spouse as their beneficiary regardless of gender.

This means our systems, website and processes are in compliance with the IRS ruling on recognizing same-sex spouses and the June 26 Supreme Court decision.

If you are a TCDRS member who needs assistance designating your beneficiary, please call TCDRS Member Services at 800-823-7782.

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Johnson County’s first married couple

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 1:02pm

Johnson County couple

Craig Lawrence and Travis Burk, who have been together 6 1/2 years, are the first same-sex couple to marry in Johnson County, south of Tarrant County.

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Texas Retirement System has no problem complying with Obergefell

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 11:04am

Screen shot 2015-07-02 at 11.02.21 AMFor all the bitching and moaning from Texas’ top elected officials, Texas is having no problem complying with the U.S. Supreme Court’s marriage-equality decision when it comes to benefits and rights that flow from marriage.

Resource Center has been in touch with Texas Municipal Retirement System about pension issues faced by its LGBT retirees. Here’s an email Rafael McDonnell received in response to a message he left explaining they’re in full compliance with Obergefell v. Hodge, the marriage equality decision:

Dear Mr. McDonnell,

In response to your voicemail message on July 1, 2015, this is to advise you that TMRS is aware of, and intends to comply with, the recent US Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges.  As stated in my April 10th letter to Ms. Cox, CEO of the Resource Center, TMRS has been in compliance with applicable IRS requirements regarding same-sex spouses and the TMRS Act allows a member to name any person, spouse or non-spouse, as a beneficiary.

Following the Obergefell decision, TMRS will now recognize the spousal relationship of members in same-sex marriages.  The primary change for TMRS members in a same-sex marriage will be that, since the marriage is now recognized, the member’s benefits and beneficiary designations are now subject to the same restrictions as currently apply to a member in an opposite-sex marriage.  For example, a vested married member must obtain their spouse’s consent to designate a beneficiary other than their spouse or to select a benefit payment option other than a joint and survivor annuity that names the spouse as the survivor.

Sincerely,
Christine M. Sweeney
General Counsel
Texas Municipal Retirement System

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OOPS: DPS not DMV

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 10:36am

Hanson.BridgetThank you to Wendy Cook of the Texas Department of Motor Vehicles for pointing out a mistake we made. She said it’s a common mistake.

The Department of Public Safety issues driver’s licenses. The Department of Motor Vehicles registers cars.

In a story about a couple that moved to Texas and applied for driver’s licenses in their married name and in the follow-up after Texas became a marriage equality state a week later, I said they went to the DMV. They went to the DPS. It clearly says Texas Department of Public Safety on the picture of the driver’s license.

According to my source about the couple’s experience in Illinois, it’s the DMV in that state that issues driver’s licenses.

It’s corrected in the original stories and this is more of a thank you to Wendy for being so nice and for pointing that out.

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Texas drops same-sex marriage case before 5th Circuit

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 9:58am
phariss holmes

Plaintiffs in the marriage case in the 5th Circuit.

The Texas Attorney General’s office yesterday (Wednesday, July 1) dropped its defense of the state’s same-sex marriage ban currently in the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals following a Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

“The Fifth Circuit’s ruling today is consistent with the opinion my office issued on June 28, in response to Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick’s request for guidance. Writing for the Fifth Circuit, Judge Jerry Smith specifically states that the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges ‘importantly invoked the First Amendment…Obergefell, in both its Fourteenth and First Amendment iterations, is the law of the land and, consequently, the law of this circuit and should not be taken lightly by actors within the jurisdiction of this court.’

“The importance of protecting religious liberty while enforcing the law under Obergefell lies at the core of the opinion issued by my office and is a key consideration for County Clerks as they justifiably issue licenses in accordance with the Court’s ruling. The new right created by the U.S. Supreme Court to same-sex marriage can and must peaceably coexist with longstanding constitutional and statutory rights, including freedoms of religion and speech, and today’s ruling by the Fifth Circuit reflects that truth.”

The case challenging Texas’ same-sex marriage ban was brought by two couples,  Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dietman of San Antonio and Victor Holmes and Mark Phariss of Plano.

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Karma’s a bitch, Ken Paxton

Posted on 02 Jul 2015 at 9:23am

Rep. Ken PaxtonA special prosecutor is asking for first degree felony charges to be filed against Attorney General Ken Paxton, according to a story in The Dallas Morning News.

Earlier this week, Paxton assured county clerks who didn’t want to issue same-sex wedding licenses that he’d help them seek pro bono legal representation when personal damage lawsuits are filed against them. County clerks shouldn’t count on his help because he’ll apparently need all that legal help himself.

Before being elected to office, Paxton admitted he broke state securities laws and was fined $1,000. Without being a registered with the state, he solicited investment clients for a friend while serving as a state representative from Collin County. That led Collin County prosecutors to continue the investigation.

Two grand juries will be seated in Collin County next week. Charges could be considered at that time. If charged and convicted of a first degree felony, he would be sentenced to 5 to 99 years in prison and could receive a $10,000 fine.

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