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.