Dallas Official Touts Refusal to Marry Same-Sex Couples
A Dallas County justice of the peace has proudly described his refusal to marry same-sex couples in a post on his Facebook page.
Self-declared "devout Catholic" Bill Metzger announced his exclusionary policy in a Wednesday post, using a rationale put forth by antigay Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton.
"As I said back in June of last year, because of my faith in God as a devout Catholic I will be only be conducting traditional marriages. Recently, I have been asked about my beliefs and stance on traditional marriage. I think it is important to point out that this is the law in Texas per Attorney General Ken Paxton's legal interpretation via opinion KG-0025: 'Justices of the peace retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections.' This came as a result of a request from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. As such, it is not true for someone to say they are required by law to conduct a non-traditional wedding.
General Paxton's opinion can be found here: https://www.texasattorneygeneral.gov/opinions/opinions/51paxton/op/2015/kp0025.pdf.
It is clear that any Justice of the Peace in Texas can refuse to perform a non-traditional wedding when that wedding can be performed by others. My sincerely held religious belief keeps me from being forced to conduct anything but a traditional wedding as a Judge per our Attorney General."
Of course, it's not fair to specifically exclude one group from a constitutionally protected right. Should Metzger refuse to provide a marriage license to a same-sex couple, they would be forced to find another Texas official who would.
Speaking to Dallas TV station WFAA, retired Dallas County District Judge John Cruezot said Metzger's stance would likely not survive a legal challenge.
"If I do marriages, I do all or none," he told the station. "It's a bad signal to be a judge, even if it is a justice of the peace, and then make an independent decision that you're going to follow the law for some folks but not for others."
Kentucky county clerk Kim Davis found notoriety for refusing to issue marriage licenses but was eventually jailed for her resistance. Kentucky's newly elected governor removed county clerks' names from licenses in an effort to accommodate the religious objections to same-sex marriage raised by Davis and few other clerks.