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

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.

—  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

Johnson County’s first married couple

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.

—  David Taffet

Texas Retirement System has no problem complying with Obergefell

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

—  David Taffet

OOPS: DPS not DMV

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.

—  David Taffet

Karma’s a bitch, Ken Paxton

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.

—  David Taffet

Alabama hasn’t been happy this week

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade

Alabama hasn’t been happy this week and its Supreme Court chief justice seems to think U.S. Supreme court rulings can be appealed. They can’t. Or don’t apply to him. They do.

U.S. District Judge Callie V.S. Granade, the judge that declared Alabama’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional, issued an order today directing all Alabama probate judges to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples. The order requires immediate compliance.

A violation of Granade’s order could result in a county probate judge being held liable for contempt of court, attorneys’ fees, financial penalties and any other remedies the court deems proper.

In today’s order, Judge Granade stated:

Although most of Alabama’s county probate judges are issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, some are not. The National Center for Lesbian Rights. ACLU of Alabama, Southern Poverty Law Center and Americans United who represented plaintiffs in the original case asked the judge to confirm that her order is now in effect.

—  David Taffet

What a difference a week makes

Hanson.BridgetLast week, we reported Bridget Hanson applied for her Texas driver’s license in Rockwall and was turned down when she showed her marriage license as her proof of name change. When Rockwall wouldn’t issue her license in her legal name, she tried another office in Garland.

She had been using her married name for five years.

What a difference a week makes.

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court issued its ruling on marriage equality. Today Hanson returned to the Department of Public Safety and she was issued a temporary license in her legal name with no questions asked. Her permanent Texas license should be issued by mid-August. Everything went without a hitch. Funny how something so easy can be made so easy.

 

—  David Taffet

Glen Maxey’s Rainbow Report: about 200 counties issuing marriage licenses

Glen Maxey

Glen Maxey

Just found this the Facebook page of Glen Maxey, the first openly-LGBT person elected to the Texas House of Representatives who now works in Austin as a lobbyist. It appears to have been posted Tuesday evening, June 30:

“So we had a great 48 hours here across Texas. Close to 200 counties issuing marriage licenses. About another 50 mumbling about forms (you can download them) or programming systems, but they are trying mighty hard to be ready if any queers show up.

“We have three ‘hell no, I’m with Jesus’ counties left: Kimble (Junction), Libscombe (on the top edge of Texas mostly in Okahoma) and Hardin in deep East Texas. If you happen to want to get married, and want to do something for the cause, plan a day trip to any of these hell holes and apply for a license so we can sue them. Plaintiffs needed, please.

“Bell had refused Monday, but folded when lawsuit was suggested. Then we found Jon and Jason going to San Saba this morning. Clerk folded. Last thing today found plaintiffs to sue the hateful clerk in Hood County. And now she’s folded. Will issue licenses in the morning. Our lawyers are getting frustrated that nobody has the guts to claim religious exemption when they are personally gonna get their butt sued and have to pay lawyers fee in the thousands when we win.”

—  Tammye Nash