GOP lawmakers in Texas and Tennessee trying new tricks to block same-sex couples’ right to marry
At least two Republican lawmakers are still trying to fight the legalization of same-sex marriage through the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling last month.
Texas state Rep. Dan Flynn (R-Van) said state agencies moved too quickly to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples because the legislature never voted to permit what he describes as “federal” marriage licenses, reported World Net Daily.
Flynn said state law continues to define marriage as between a man and women, and he said marriage licenses and other associated benefits — such as pensions — are “invalid” unless the state legislature votes to amend its statutes, reported The Dallas Morning News.
The lawmaker asked Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton to issue a non-binding legal opinion to determine whether state pension funds and vital-statistics officials moved too quickly to implement the court ruling.
“Texas law remains silent as to marriage other than between one man and one woman,” Flynn in an eight-page brief requesting the attorney general’s opinion. “Therefore pursuant to the non-delegation doctrine [of the 10th Amendment], Texas state agencies, including DSHS, cannot act without authorization from the Legislature. Without state agency action to implement same-sex marriage, local county clerks lack authority to award same-sex marriage licenses. Therefore, any marriage licenses issued in contradiction to Texas law to date are void.”
Meanwhile, a Republican state representative from Tennessee is urging county clerks to ignore an order by the GOP governor and attorney general to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples or face possible discrimination lawsuits, reported the Daily News Journal.
“Such intimidation from this administration is unconstitutional and should not be tolerated,” wrote state Rep. Rick Womick (R-Rockvale) in a letter sent to each of the state’s 95 county clerks.
He argues that county clerks are accountable only to the voters who elected them and swore an oath to uphold the state constitution and Tennessee Annotated Code.
“You did not take an oath to uphold an ‘opinion’ from five justices of the SCOTUS,” Womick said. “Therefore, I am asking that each of you ignore the recent SCOTUS opinion redefining marriage, uphold our state constitution, and issue marriage certificates to one man and one woman only.”
Womick has previously suggested that legislators should impeach Gov. Bill Haslam for failing to enforce a state constitutional amendment, approved by voters in 2006, banning same-sex marriage.
The chairwoman of Tennessee’s Democratic Party said Womick was “out of control” and dared Republicans to “rein” him in, reported the Times Free Press.
“Republican leadership’s silence on this issue is deafening,” said Mary Mancini, the state party chair, saying top GOP leaders are afraid to challenge extremists in their own party. “Or maybe they agree with Rep. Womick’s irresponsible actions but just won’t admit it.”