We have received word from OutServe-SLDN, an advocacy organization for active service and retired LGBT people in the U.S. military, that a Bronze Star recipient will be requesting a marriage license from the San Saba County Clerk — and expects to be denied.
Jason White and his fiancée, Jonathan Means, were planning to request the license today (Tuesday, June 30), according to a statement released this afternoon by OutServe-SLDN Interim Executive Director Matt Thorn. Thorn also noted that San Saba County Clerk Kim Wells has indicated she will deny the request based on Attorney General Ken Paxton’s “legal opinion” regarding the validity of the U.S. Supreme Court’s June 26 ruling on marriage equality.
Paxton has said that county clerks and their employees are free to refuse to grant marriage licenses to same-sex couples if doing so would violate their religious beliefs. He has added basic CYA language noting that someone in the clerk’s office has to issue such licenses when they are required and those who refuse to do so are personally liable and can be sued.
Smith County Clerk Karen Phillips initially refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses, but then changed her mind when she was sued by private counsel. Hood County Clerk Katie Lang has refused to issue licenses to same-sex couples, but hasn’t been sued yet, as far as we know.
Thorn’s statement noted that the Texas Department of Vital Statistics has updated the forms necessary to issue marriage licenses to same-sex partners and “therefore there is no justifiable basis for the denial of marriage licenses to same-sex couples.”
Thorn said White is a 10-year, 6-combat-tour, Marine. who was awarded the Bronze Star for Valor and two additional medals in the Marine Corps in Afghanistan and Iraq.
White and Means were engaged Monday, June 29, and were planning to go to the clerk’s office at 2 p.m. today to obtain a marriage license. We will update when we hear what happened.
White is also owner of the Brass House, a restaurant and bar in Austin.
In a letter to Wells, Thorn urged, “We strongly request that you follow the ruling of the Supreme Court and issue Jason and Jonathan their marriage license. Furthermore, we will assist Jason and Jonathan in all recourse with San Saba County should there be a continual denial of their license. … Jason has given this country his service, risked his life and took an oath to uphold our fundamental beliefs as a nation. He and his fiancée deserve the respect and dignity of being able to publicly pronounce their love to one another through marriage and should not be discriminated against because you are choosing to ignore the oath in which you took and the law.”