Once again proving it’s determined to be the worst state in the nation, a Texas lawmaker has appealed to the attorney general to authorize the state to nullify marriage equality.
Jezebel reports that Republican State Rep. James White appealed to Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton last week, asking for his opinion on how to reconcile the landmark Obergefell v. Hodges US Supreme Court case that authorized marriage equality with still-existing state laws that define marriage as between one man and one woman. Specifically, White wonders if private citizens still must recognize same-sex marriages, even if the state must issue marriage licenses to them.
White’s argument essentially states that even though federal laws supersede state laws–thus making conflicting state laws unenforceable by government officials–private citizens do not need to adhere to federal laws. Should AG Paxton agree with White’s argument, that would open the door to private businesses being able to refuse same-sex couples business or recognize other rights afforded to married couples under the law.
“The fact that a federal district court has enjoined state officials from enforcing the Texas marriage laws in no way affects the existence or validity of those laws with regard to private parties, who are not even bound by the Fourteenth Amendment — let alone the Supreme Court’s purported interpretations of it,” White wrote in his letter to Paxton.
In essence, White uses the same argument as lawyer Jonathan Mitchell, the architect of Texas’ law that deputizes and rewards citizens for hunting down women seeing abortions, and anyone aiding them. That law is already headed to the US Supreme Court to test its constitutionality. Mitchell has also proven himself a chief enemy of LGBTQ rights, having previously argued that both Obergefell and Lawrence v. Texas, which invalidated anti-gay sodomy laws in 2003, were both incorrectly decided by the high court.
AG Paxton has yet to issue an opinion on White’s argument.
The news of White’s renewed attack on marriage equality comes on the heels of Texas Gov. Greg Abbott signing into a law a ban on transgender athletes competing in school sports. It also follows passage of the aforementioned anti-abortion bill, which essentially turns private citizens into bounty hunters of women seeking abortions, and anyone who might–wittingly or not–aid them.