Texas same-sex couple gets marriage license after suing clerk

Reuters News
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Posted: Jul 06, 2015 1:53 PM

By Lisa Maria Garza

DALLAS (Reuters) - A Texas county that initially balked at providing a marriage license to two men following the Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage nationwide issued the document on Monday after the couple filed a lawsuit in federal court.

Katie Lang, the clerk in Hood County southwest of Fort Worth, in late June said her Christian beliefs were being violated by issuing licenses to same-sex couples and she would not personally grant them.

Hood County residents Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton received the license from the clerk's office after filing suit against Lang on Monday. They said Lang's office had denied their marriage license application last week, saying it did not have updated gender-neutral forms from the state.

"Nothing can serve the public interest more than for this court to issue an order admonishing the defendant that public officials who have a duty to uphold the Constitution, and in fact have sworn to do so, cannot frivolously choose to ignore the Supreme Court of the United States and create their own 'Rule of Law,'" the lawsuit stated.

The couple provided the revised application from the state's website but Lang's office refused to process it and they were asked to leave, according to the lawsuit.

Jan Soifer, the couple's attorney, said Cato and Stapleton will not drop the lawsuit until Lang agrees to issue marriage licenses to all couples.

"The license was issued this morning, a few hours after the lawsuit was filed, in handwriting on the existing license form, which proves that County Clerk Lang easily could have complied with the law without waiting 10 days," Soifer said.

Some counties in conservative states have declined to issue licenses to same-sex couples since the U.S. Supreme Court ruled last month that the U.S. Constitution provides gay couples the right to marry.

Lang was not immediately available for comment.

(Writing by Jon Herskovitz; Editing by Will Dunham)