Angelina County Clerk's office will hand out marriage licenses t - | Lufkin and Nacogdoches, Texas

Angelina County Clerk's office will hand out marriage licenses to same-sex couples despite objections from AG

Source: KTRE staff Source: KTRE staff

Despite objections by Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, Angelina County employees in the clerk's office will be handing on marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Angelina County Clerk Amy Fincher said her office is prepared to help any same-sex couple that comes into her office.

"Over the weekend, me and one of my employees came in and made sure everything was ready for the amended license," Fincher said.

Paxton has told clerks that they can opt out of offering licenses to same-sex couples if it goes against their religious beliefs. In a statement, Paxton said if clerks or deputy clerks did not issue licenses they may face fines or charges but there were lawyers prepared to help in their cases.

Fincher said she continues to wait on a clear picture from Austin, which has made the last few days complicated.

"It has been very stressful on me and on a lot of the clerks," Fincher said. "It's just not having any direction from anyone. I feel like they just left it up to us. Like I said, I took an oath to uphold the laws of the United States, and that's what I'm doing."

Paxton said his office received hundreds of requests for guidance on the same-sex marriage issue from hundreds of county and state officials. The Texas attorney general also pointed out that there is no court order in place to issue any particular license, "only the flawed direction by the U.S. Supreme Court on Constitutionality and applicable state laws."

“Importantly, the reach of the Court's opinion stops at the door of the First Amendment and our laws protecting religious liberty," Paxton said. "Even the flawed majority opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges acknowledged there are religious liberty protections of which individuals may be able to avail themselves. Our religious liberties find protection in state and federal constitutions and statutes. While they are indisputably our first freedom, we should not let them be our last.”

In his opinion, Paxton ruled that “County clerks and their employees retain religious freedoms that may allow accommodation of their religious objections to issuing same-sex marriage licenses. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case."

Paxton said that justices of the peace and judges have similar religious freedoms. He said they have the right to "claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection, because it is not the least restrictive means of the government ensuring the ceremonies occur. The strength of any such claim depends on the particular facts of each case.”

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