The Religious Opt Out: The First Amendment Trumps The 14th Amendment
Even before the Supreme Court ruling, some states were considering allowing public officials the ability to “opt out” of granting marriage licenses to gay couples if they had religious objections. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton (R) peddled that logic in a non-binding legal opinion he issued Sunday. Earlier this month, North Carolina legislators passed a law allowing magistrates and registers of deeds to decline to participate in any marriage for religious reasons, overcoming the veto of anti-gay marriage Gov. Pat McCrory (R), who opposed the legislation on constitutional grounds. Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal (R), who is running for president, is the latest to take that tack, arguing Monday that a religious freedom executive order he signed last month applied to state employees issuing marriage licenses.
"We believe the U.S. Constitution, Louisiana Constitution, Louisiana's Preservation of Religious Freedom Act, as well as our Executive Order prevents government from compelling individuals to violate sincerely held religious beliefs. We will continue to fight to protect religious liberty," said Mike Reed, spokesman for the governor's office, told The Times-Picayune Monday.
The Legal Slow Roll: We’ll Issue Gay Marriage Licenses Only After A Court Orders Us To
Since the Supreme Court ruled bans on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution, in theory it could be applied nationwide and all states were free to begin granting gay couples marriage licenses. Nevertheless, some public officials insisted that they receive a court order that applied directly to their state before falling in line. Officials in both Louisiana and Mississippi initially said that they would wait until the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said Friday’s decision was in effect there (some localities in both states are moving forward anyway), while gay couples in North Dakota had to wait for a district judge to lift an injunction Monday in the same-sex marriage case there.
You Want Gay Marriage? How About No Marriage Instead
County clerks and presidential candidates alike are responding to the same-sex marriage decision by suggesting the government get out of the marriage business altogether. Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), a 2016 contender, advocated for the end of government-sanctioned marriage in an op-ed Sunday. Meanwhile, some localities in Alabama said they will stop issuing marriage licenses to everybody in order to avoid granting them to gay couples. Mississippi state Rep. Andy Gipson, the chairman of the state house judiciary committee, floated the idea for the entire state.
"One of the options that other states have looked at is removing the state marriage license requirement," Gipson told the Clarion-Ledger. "We will be researching what options there are. I personally can see pros and cons to that. I don't know if it would be better to have no marriage certificate sponsored by the state or not. But it's an option out there to be considered."
The Roy Moore Doctrine: Alabama’s Supreme Court Can Wait 25 Days
Yet again, Roy Moore attempted to single-handedly overcome the will of the Supreme Court and block same-sex marriage in the state. This time, the anti-gay marriage judge, who is the chief justice on the state Supreme Court, said an order the state Supreme Court issued Monday meant that local probate judges needed to wait another 25 days before issuing licenses.
"Basically it states that in the court's judgment it (the U.S. Supreme Court ruling Friday) is tabled effective until after the hearing (before the Alabama Supreme Court)," Moore said, according to AL.com. "It's not in effect until after this hearing in this 25-day period."
LGBT rights groups have pushed back against that interpretation, and Moore, who had recused himself from Monday’s order, even backtracked by later saying probate judges could issue licenses, but didn’t have to. Moore is not alone in the suggestion. Officials in Louisiana also argued clerks could wait out the 25-day period for parties to apply to the Supreme Court for a rehearing before they begin granting licenses.
The Anti-Gay Hail 'Marry:' A Constitutional Amendment
Even before Friday’s decision, the anti-gay marriage group National Organization For Marriage was asking politicians to pledge their support for an amendment to the U.S. Constitution limiting marriage to straight couples. Top Republicans including GOP 2016ers Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, Texas Sen. Ted Cruz and former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee have signaled they would back such an effort, which failed in the mid-2000s.
“I will not acquiesce to an imperial Court any more than our founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch,” Huckabee said Friday. “We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat.”