Despite being a “hold out state” and clinging to the idea that we’ve always done it our way and you’re not going to interfere now, even Texas has to recognize eventually that on June 26, 2015 the U.S. Supreme Court rules that same-sex couples have a fundamental right to marry, and that states can’t deny that right. But San Antonio lawyers aren’t surprised at the reaction in Texas: we refuse to throw in the towel. The Attorney General stands up behind a few county clerks and several Republican politicians and is attempting to make the defense of religious liberty (to refuse marriage licenses based on religious beliefs) the next sticking point.
It’s hard to tell where the nation’s sentiment is on the matter; after all, Texas does like to do things differently. Is the rest of the U.S. just rolling their eyes and shaking their heads? Headlines like “Texas GOP’s terrible reaction to gay marriage ruling,” and “apocalyptic reaction from GOP to gay marriage in Texas” and “foot-dragging in Texas on gay marriage licenses bring lawsuits” makes us think probably yes. Maybe a little more than eye-rolling. But San Antonio lawyers who are shaking their heads at the lawsuits filed against county clerks denying same-sex couples licenses know that for now, the law is on the plaintiffs’ side.
The second one to happen was in Granbury, Texas, where Hood County Clerk Katie Lang says she has religious opposition to gay marriage and that changing the pronouns on the marriage license to reflect a union between two males would be “altering a public document, which would be a violation of the law.” San Antonio lawyers nearby know that excuse was probably just a pretext “to delay issuing a license,” which the same-sex couple claimed in their lawsuit.
And quickly got what they wanted. As soon as the suit was filed, (i.e. the very next day) the county clerk’s office issued them a license. But Texans aren’t so easily pacified. Go figure, given the behavioral model of their state. Same-sex couple James Cato and Jody Stapleton and their attorney are no longer satisfied with their original request being met. They insist “it’s a shame that they needed to hire lawyers and file a lawsuit,” and in that public shaming sentiment, they’re demanding recompense for the clerk’s office “humiliating them for seeking a marriage license,” in the form of attorneys’ fees and a promise from Lang to issue licenses to all gay couples in Hood County.
Now, as much as Texans are steeped in stubborn pride for their beliefs and convictions, whatever they may be, it would probably behoove us all to take a leaf from a more practical perspective, as professionals like San Antonio lawyers might suggest: the recalcitrance on both sides paves the way not for progress and cooperation; not for collaborative compromise, but for uncompromising blame, ineffectiveness, and ridicule. That’s right Cato and Stapleton: you got what you wanted—now you’re just being greedy. The nation is rolling their eyes at you two Texans, too.