It’s been more than seven months since marriage equality was announced as the law of the land, and tiny Irion County, Texas has not had a single, genuine application for a same-sex marriage license, according to testimony by the self-identified Christian county clerk, Molly Criner.
According to Criner, although she has "no disrespect" to gays or lesbians seeking to legally wed, she cannot "fulfill her Christian conscience" and issue them a marriage license.
And she made it clear, no matter what the Supreme Court says, unlike what happened after the most famous antigay county clerk in the U.S., Kim Davis, took a similar stand, neither will her deputy clerks.
This week she was called to testify before a Texas legislative hearing into what Republican state lawmakers described as the need to protect religious freedoms, according to The New Civil Rights Movement.
Criner testified Wednesday that in the months since the Supreme Court ruling was announced, two journalists had posed as a same-sex couple to request a license, and nobody else. She said she turned them away, reported TNCRM, and then explained to the senators why she felt torn over this issue.
“Am I obligated by law to issue a marriage license? I am. But I’m also obligated by law to issue a marriage license only between a man and a woman," testified Criner. "This is going to be something that violates my oath."
But if an actual gay couple were to cross her threshold in Irion County, population 1,500, would she obey the law, or her Christian conscience? “I’ll have to evaluate that the day it happens,” she responded.
Less than a month after the landmark ruling, Criner told The Christian Reporter News in an interview that’s viewable on YouTube that she saw herself in the same light as those who refused the Nazis during World War II when they were pressed to help them hunt down Jews. She told the faith-based news outlet her read of the Obergefell v. Hodges decision was that the high court overstepped its bounds.
"I mean no disrespect to the same-sex couples who wish the benefits of marriage for their relations — no animosity toward them. I just have to look at what God said, and I have to look at the way our Constitution was based on what God said.
“I hope everybody really likes me when it’s over, and I hope I still have a home, and I hope I'm not in jail, but I really can’t think about any of that. I just leave it in the hands of God."
Watch Criner’s interview with The Christian Reporter News below, and click here to watch her testify this week at a Texas senate hearing. Fast forward to the 2:04:00 mark for the relevant clip.