Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton suggested on Wednesday that a bill that would prevent county clerks from issuing or recognizing same-sex marriage licenses was reaffirming the will of the voters of the state.
“We passed a constitutional amendment [banning same-sex marriage] in 2005, it was overwhelmingly approved by the voters,” Paxton told CNN host Alisyn Camerota. “That’s our background here.”
Camerota noted that as recently as two years ago, polls showed that support for marriage equality in Texas was evenly split.
“If Texas follows national trend lines, we’ve seen support tick up for same-sex marriage,” she pointed out. “So, why pass a law that would apply to everyone?”
Paxton, however, argued that the “real poll” happened on election day.
“My job as attorney general and the job of the Legislature is to really follow the will of the people and enforce the laws that we have,” he remarked. “This is both in statute and in our constitution. So, that’s my job, and that’s the job of the Legislature.”
But the attorney general was not willing to say that the state would follow the Supreme Court if it decided to rule in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage later this year.
“Aren’t you saying that the gays and lesbians in your state are not as valued at heterosexuals because they can’t form into a union?” Camerota asked.
“All the Legislature has done in the past is try to reflect the values that have been in this state and this country for over two centuries,” Paxton insisted.
It's going to be really interesting to see what happens should SCOTUS chuck state bans on same-sex marriage into the dustbin of history. The reaction of deep red states will not be that of joy, and I suspect we may see years of legal wrangling before all is said and done. Some Alabama judges kept enforcing anti-miscegenation laws for three years after Loving v Virginia supposedly eliminated those laws in 1967, and Nixon had to step in with a district court order to specifically put a stop to the practice. I foresee a number of country clerks and judges refusing to marry same-sex couples for quite some time, and for things to be pretty ugly afterward (remember in several states, it's still quite legal to fire someone for being LGBTQ.)
We'll see how it all shakes out, but if history is any guide, people like Ken Paxton aren't going to just shrug and give up.