HOUSTON (CN) – Harris County’s clerk did an about-face on same-sex marriage Friday after a gay couple sued him for refusing them a license.
John Christian Bullitt LaRue, a family law attorney, and his partner Robert Hunter Middleton sued Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart, Harris County and Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton at 12:32 p.m. on Friday.
LaRue and Hunter went to the Harris County Civil Courthouse in downtown Houston for their license Friday immediately upon hearing of the Supreme Court ruling.
After they filled out the application and tried to pay the $72 fee, they were denied a license by an employee who said the clerk’s office was “waiting on guidance” from Paxton, according to the complaint.
With other same-sex partners waiting in line behind them, Stanart told reporters he was waiting to get updated marriage-application forms from the state.
Stanart said later that he would start issuing same-sex marriage licenses at 3 p.m. Friday regardless of whether he got the new forms.
LaRue and Hunter became the first gay couple married in Texas’ most populous county.
Stanart, a Republican, denied delaying the licenses for political reasons, but other top officials in Texas were not shy about voicing their displeasure with the Supreme Court.
“Despite the Supreme Court’s rulings, Texans’ fundamental right to religious liberty remains protected. No Texan is required by the Supreme Court’s decision to act contrary to his or her religious beliefs regarding marriage,” Gov. Greg Abbott said in a statement.
Abbott accused the Supreme Court of becoming an “unelected nine-member legislature.”
Attorney General Paxton said in a statement Sunday that Texas county clerks can refuse to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples if doing so would “violate the county clerk’s sincerely held religious beliefs.”
Texas judges and justices of the peace also can cite “religious objections” and refuse to marry same-sex couples, Paxton said.
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