Two Muslims, including a ‘Daily Show’ correspondent, pen open letter on marriage equality

rainbow-flagFollowing the U.S. Supreme Court’s legalization of marriage equality nationwide, author Reza Aslan and comedian and “Daily Show” correspondent Hasan Minhaj urged their fellow Muslims to celebrate the decision in an open letter.

Published on ReligionDispatches.org, they urge their fellow Muslims to do the right thing–really the Muslim thing, as they put it–and stand up “for marginalized communities, even when you disagree with them.”

Unlike many other religious minorities, white evangelical Christians are afforded the privilege of spewing (and bankrolling off) hate anti-LGBT language.”Sure Rick Santorum and Mike Huckabee can call the Supreme Court decision the precursor to the End of Days and the final battle of Armageddon. But if you try saying something like that on TV you may end up in Guantanamo. You may not like the Supreme Court’s decision but you’re willing to tolerate it,” even if the legal ruling violates one’s religious beliefs.

“We Muslims are already a deeply marginalized people in mainstream American culture. More than half of Americans have a negative view of us. One-third of Americans—that’s more than one hundred million people—want us to carry special IDs so that they can easily identify us as Muslim. [emphasis mine] We shouldn’t be perpetuating our marginalization by marginalizing others. Rejecting the right to same-sex marriage, but then expecting empathy for our community’s struggle, is hypocritical.”

According to the Public Religion Research Institute, 42 percent of Muslim Americans support marriage equality.

The thoughtful piece stands out for a few reasons. For one, they acknowledge the crucial need for intersectionality, otherwise the belief activists from other social movements for equality and recognition collaborate with one another. For another, they know it’s still difficult being Muslim not just in a non-Muslim majority country, but the United States in particular.

As someone impacted by the marriage equality ruling and member of another religious minority (the Religious Society of Friends), it’s necessary to share this call to action. Not just because it’s a Muslim thing or Christian thing or moral thing, but the right thing. As members of the LGBT community we transcend race, class, gender, and values. But like our fellow Muslims, we share a history of injustice and discrimination as well.

—  James Russell

Least populous county in the U.S. will issue licenses

Loving CountyLoving County in West Texas, the least populous county in the U.S. with 82 residents as of the 2010 census, will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, according to former state Rep. Glen Maxey, who has been monitoring county clerks in all 254 Texas counties.

Located on the New Mexico border, 230 miles east of El Paso and 75 miles west of Odessa, Loving County has one unincorporated town. The county is 677 about  sq. miles, about 3/4 the size of Dallas, Tarrant, Collin or Denton counties, which are each about 900 square miles. Loving shares an ISD with Winkler County to its east. Winkler has two towns and 7,300 people.

Loving had been on the list of counties whose county clerks didn’t respond to the question of whether or not they would issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. With such a sparse population, the county officials (according to its website, there are 12) only work part-time.

According to Maxey, the County Clerk Beverly Hanson has now responded, and said she would issue a license to a same-sex couple. None of the county’s residents or visitors have applied for one, however.

 

 

—  David Taffet

After Hood County relents, several Texas counties continue to hold out

Maxey.Glen

Former state Rep. Glen Maxey

Former state Rep. Glen Maxey has made it his mission to ensure same-sex couples can receive a marriage license in any of Texas’ 254 countries.

The biggest hold out until yesterday was Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth.

Today, Maxey has his sites set on Irion and Anderson counties.

Irion County is west of San Angelo and Maxey said he has a couple contemplating a road trip there.

Palestine is the county seat of Anderson County, south of Athens.

Anderson, with a population of about 45,000, is the largest hold out in the state right now. He said if anyone in East Texas needs a marriage license to send him a message.

Here’s Maxey’s account of the drama going on in Anderson County from his Facebook page:

So the drama and gossip from Palestine (better than gay drama queens gossip) says that the Republican County Judge, one Robert Johnston “ordered the County Clerk not to issue any same sex marriage licenses and told the JP’s not to conduct any gay weddings.” I learned about this from a person who heard first hand from one of the people in the meeting where the edict came down. ( Note: None of these officials answer to the County Judge. They are independently elected public officials. But he does control their budgets for pencils and toilet paper.)

We also know that a few couples may have gone to the Anderson County Clerk Mark Staples and were refused. Reportedly, they wanted to get married immediately and they went to a nearby county and got all licensed and married.

—  David Taffet

Hood County Clerk finally issues license after lawsuit filed

Hood County Clerk Katie Lang

Hood County Clerk Katie Lang

A Hood County couple, Jim Cato and Jody Stapleton, filed a lawsuit this morning, July 6, against Hood County Clerk Katie Lang, asking for “declaratory and injunctive relief” after Lang refused to issue them a marriage license. Lang issued the license shortly after the couple filed suit, but Dallas Voice has heard no word yet on whether Cato and Stapleton will drop their lawsuit now.

County clerks in Texas  may be held personally liable for damages resulting from ignoring a court ruling — in this case, the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide.

On July 4, Cato wrote on his Facebook page that Lang had not only denied them their license, but called the sheriff’s office. Seven deputies were sent to throw them and the media out of her office, he wrote. It was the same day that announced marriage licenses for same-sex couples wouldn’t be available in her office for another three weeks.

According to Hood County News, Sheriff Roger Deeds responded with deputies and stood outside the office but did not remove anyone from the office.

Protests supporting both sides of the issue took place on July 4 in Granbury. While the anti-equality side held signs claiming the Supreme Court ruling was destroying marriage as it’s existed since Biblical times, the pro-equality side said both sides had the right to protest, but they wanted the court ruling upheld.

—  David Taffet

Maxey files complaint against Paxton with state bar

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.”

—  David Taffet

I’m applying to be game warden so I can refuse to issue hunting licenses

Taffet,DavidI’ve decided to apply to Texas Parks and Wildlife to become a game warden.

Unfortunately, hunting is against my religion, so, once appointed, I won’t be issuing any legally sanctioned government licenses. I do expect to be paid my full salary and I expect everyone who likes to hunt to understand because otherwise they’ll be interfering with my deeply held religious beliefs.

That’s because our attorney general, Ken Paxton, believes people who work for the government should have the right to follow their religious beliefs — and I’m sure he wasn’t just talking about same-sex marriage.

John Turner-McClelland serves as president of the Denton County Fresh Water Supply District 11-A. After closely considering what Jesus would do, he decided water and sewer systems aren’t for sinners.

“Shit in a bucket,” this religiously motivated public servant advised.

Following one’s religious beliefs should apply to all government employees who issue licenses. Everyone at the Department of Public Safety needs to take a good look at whom they’re letting drive.

Any Muslims work for the DPS? Well, in Saudi Arabia, women can’t drive. Why should they in Texas? If it’s your deeply held religious belief, don’t issue women driver’s licenses. Paxton says you don’t have to. It’s called accommodating your religious beliefs. Oh, and Paxton will make sure you receive your full pay, because, hell, you answer to a higher authority.

What about voter registration?

What if you happen to work in the registrar’s office and it’s your deeply held religious belief that no damn good comes from bigoted white people voting?

Ken Paxton’s got the answer for you.

Don’t register their bigoted asses. It’s against your deeply held values and to hell with Congress and the U.S. Constitution that says every citizen has a right to vote.

Work at the food counter in the county courthouse? I believe when I passed by there last week I saw B-L-T on the menu. If it was me, I’d refuse to sell it to you because bacon goes against my deeply held religious belief that pork is only kosher when wrapped in a wonton and served on Christmas Eve. In fact, the Levitical prohibition against pork uses the exact same word — toeveh — as against man lying with another man.

Ever wonder why it takes months for a new bar or restaurant to get its liquor license? A number of TABC agents are Baptist. You may qualify, but they don’t think you should be drinking. Or dancing, but that doesn’t take a license, except in Dallas where we still have dance hall permits.

So they just won’t — or shouldn’t — issue your license.

Because Ken Paxton said they didn’t have to if it’s their deeply held religious belief.

And if you’re a Jehovah’s Witness? They don’t believe in the sovereignty of the state, so they don’t have to issue any license whatsoever. But I’m sure they’ll stay on the payroll. Paxton wouldn’t want to discriminate.

Hopefully the next time Paxton gets on a plane, here’s the announcement he hears from the cockpit: “Good morning. I’m Captain Smith. Our flight to Houston would have taken 27 minutes, but I’m Amish and I don’t really believe in this form of transportation.”

—  David Taffet

Anderson County complies while Irion County defies

Irion CountyFormer state Rep. Glen Maxey reports today (Wednesday, July 8) that the Anderson County Clerk will issue licenses, but Irion County still won’t.

“Got a report today that the clerk in Anderson will issue licenses,” Maxey said on Facebook. “Looks like no suit will be needed.”

Palestine, located south of Athens, is the Anderson county seat.

Irion County Clerk Molly Criner, however, continues to defy the U.S. Supreme Court. Irion County is west of San Angelo and southeast of Midland.

Maxey said he has a couple that will meet with attorneys, travel to Irion County and file a lawsuit against the clerk if and when her office denies them a marriage license.

Criner seems to be even more determined than Hood County Clerk Katie Lang that Supreme Court decisions she doesn’t like don’t apply to her. She posted her “Declaration of Obedience to Law and Defense of Natural Marriage” on July 4.

After a bunch of “whereas” statements that prove she has no idea what her duty is, including her “task” of “upholding” the “written United States Constitution,” she gives her “therefores.”

Here’s her declaration of war on the U.S. Supreme Court, a branch of government defined in that United States Constitution she understands she has to uphold:

Therefore, as County Clerk, I declare as follows:

1. I will continue to defend Natural Marriage as recognized by the People of Texas , in the Constitution and Laws of the State of Texas, consistent with the Declaration of Independence; the written United States Constitution; the Ninth, Tenth, and Fourteenth Amendments; and higher Natural Law.

2. Natural Marriage between one man and one woman remains the law in Texas, regardless of any court decision to the contrary. Any court decision purporting to strike down Natural Marriage, including Obergefell v. Hodges, is “unauthoritative, void, and of no force.”

3. I, as County Clerk, in faithful execution of the laws of Texas, shall resist unlawful federal or state court encroachments upon the prerogative of the People of Texas to protect Natural Marriage, and shall only issue marriage licenses consistent with Texas law, so help me God.

4. With a firm reliance upon the providence of Almighty God and the support of my fellow citizens, I call upon all of the Officers of the State of Texas, the Governor, the Attorney General, and the members of the Texas Legislature, to join with me, and utilize all authority within their power to protect Natural Marriage from lawless court opinions, wherever the source.

Here’s the link to the full declaration posted on Jerry Falwell’s Liberty University website.

—  David Taffet

Will there be a lawsuit after all?

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.”

—  Tammye Nash

New anti-marriage ad is quite entertaining

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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.

—  David Taffet

TCDRS: More Texas compliance with marriage ruling

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.

—  David Taffet