The Supreme Court of the United States, in a 5-4 decision on Friday, declared that same-sex marriage is a fundamental right. Almost immediately, various count clerks’ offices around Texas began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples. Texas elected officials quickly responded to the high court’s decision.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott:
The Supreme Court has abandoned its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and has become an unelected nine-member legislature. Five Justices on the Supreme Court have imposed on the entire county their personal views on an issue that the Constitution and the Court’s previous decisions reserve to the people of the States.
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.
The Texas Constitution guarantees that ‘[n]o human authority ought, in any case whatsoever, to control or interfere with the rights of conscience in matters of religion.’ The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the free exercise of religion; and the Texas Religious Freedom Restoration Act, combined with the newly enacted Pastor Protection Act, provide robust legal protections to Texans whose faith commands them to adhere to the traditional understanding of marriage.
As I have done in the past, I will continue to defend the religious liberties of all Texans—including those whose conscience dictates that marriage is only the union of one man and one woman. Later today, I will be issuing a directive to state agencies instructing them to prioritize the protection of Texans’ religious liberties.
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton:
Today’s ruling by five Justices of the U.S. Supreme Court marks a radical departure from countless generations of societal law and tradition. The impact of this opinion on our society and the familial fabric of our nation will be profound. Far from a victory for anyone, this is instead a dilution of marriage as a societal institution.
What is most disturbing is the extent to which this opinion is yet another assault on the actual text of the U.S. Constitution and the rule of law itself. Just as Roe v. Wade ripped from the hands of the American people the issue of life and placed it in the judge-made ‘penumbras’ of the Constitution, so has this opinion made clear that our governing document – the protector of our liberties through representative government – can be molded to mean anything by unelected judges.
But no court, no law, no rule, and no words will change the simple truth that marriage is the union of one man and one woman. Nothing will change the importance of a mother and a father to the raising of a child. And nothing will change our collective resolve that all Americans should be able to exercise their faith in their daily lives without infringement and harassment.
We start by recognizing the primacy and importance of our first freedom – religious liberty. The truth is that the debate over the issue of marriage has increasingly devolved into personal and economic aggression against people of faith who have sought to live their lives consistent with their sincerely-held religious beliefs about marriage. In numerous incidents trumpeted and celebrated by a sympathetic media, progressives advocating the anti-traditional marriage agenda have used this issue to publicly mock, deride, and intimidate devout individuals for daring to believe differently than they do. This ruling will likely only embolden those who seek to punish people who take personal, moral stands based upon their conscience and the teachings of their religion.
It is not acceptable that people of faith be exposed to such abuse. The First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution protects our religious liberty and shields people of faith from such persecution, but those aspects of its protections have been denigrated by radicals, echoed by the media and an increasingly-activist judiciary. Consistent with existing federal and state Religious Freedom Restoration Acts that should already protect religious liberty and prevent discrimination based on religion, we must work to ensure that the guarantees of the First Amendment, protecting freedom of religion, and its corollary freedom of conscience, are secure for all Americans.
Our guiding principle should be to protect people who want to live, work and raise their families in accordance with their religious faith. We should ensure that people and businesses are not discriminated against by state and local governments based on a person’s religious beliefs, including discrimination against people of faith in the distribution of grants, licenses, certification or accreditation; we should prevent harassing lawsuits against people of faith, their businesses and religious organizations; we should protect non-profits and churches from state and local taxes if the federal government penalizes them by removing their 501(c)(3) status; and we should protect religious adoption and foster care organizations and the children and families they serve. Shortly, my office will be addressing questions about the religious liberties of clerks of court and justices of the peace.
Displays of hate and intolerance against people of faith should be denounced by all people of good will and spark concern among anyone who believes in religious liberty and freedom for all.
Despite this decision, I still have faith in America and the American people. We must be vigilant about our freedom and must use the democratic process to make sure America lives up to its promise as a land of freedom, religious tolerance and hope.
Former Texas Governor Rick Perry:
I am disappointed the Supreme Court today chose to change the centuries old definition of marriage as between one man and one woman. I’m a firm believer in traditional marriage, and I also believe the 10th Amendment leaves it to each state to decide this issue. I fundamentally disagree with the court rewriting the law and assaulting the 10th Amendment. Our founding fathers did not intend for the judicial branch to legislate from the bench, and as president, I would appoint strict Constitutional conservatives who will apply the law as written.
State Senator Charles Perry:
Regardless of what any court says, true marriage will always be between one man and one woman. This truth is biblical and a super majority of Texans have affirmed this through the democratic election process. It is a shame that once again the Supreme Court has decided to ignore the 10th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and decided to legislate from the bench and impose their will on the states.
Congressman John Culberson:
I’m disappointed that the Court chose to override the will of Texans who define marriage as being between a man and a woman. As the dissent noted, the Court also overrode the will of the people in more than half of the other States. The 10th Amendment guarantees States the primary responsibility of providing for public safety, public health and public morality. Chief Justice Roberts correctly stated that marriage ‘has formed the basis of human society for millennia’ and it is my firm belief that States – not the federal government – have the Constitutional right to define marriage.
Congressman Randy Weber:
There they go again. The Supreme Court has adopted the role of judicial activists. Nowhere in our Constitution does it say how marriage must be defined. In just two days, the Supreme Court has twice redefined laws passed by the people’s representatives and trampled on states’ sovereign decisions to define marriage. As the author of the State Marriage Defense Act (H.R. 824), this decision is a direct attack on the ability of Texans to determine their own marriage laws. I will continue to defend the sanctity of marriage, and ensure that faith-based entities are not penalized or coerced by the federal government due to their support of traditional marriage. The Supreme Court should stick to their job of interpreting the law based upon the Constitution, rather than interpreting intent. This decision shows contempt for Congress and state sovereignty.
Congressman Joe Barton:
Two days in a row the Supreme Court has overstepped its authority. Today’s decision on same sex marriage is another consequence of liberal judicial activism. On moral grounds, the Supreme Court is wrong. I, like many Americans, believe in traditional marriage as defined by God. The Court has taken away Americans’ right to decide for themselves what defines marriage. I will continue to stand for the traditional Christian beliefs that are the bedrock of this country. The Supreme Court’s unacceptable announcement today will not alter our faith or moral compass.
Republican Party of Texas Chairman Tom Mechler:
I’m disappointed that the rule of law and respect for the moral fabric of America has been cast aside by U.S. Supreme Court today. It’s a harrowing day in America when unelected judges have the power to upend an institution that has been widely recognized as a virtuous force in society. This decision is just another example of Washington DC elites ruling against the will of the American people and usurping power from the states. In light of today’s ruling, the fight for religious liberty continues, and the Republican Party of Texas will continue to work with our elected Republican leaders to protect the freedom of Texans to exercise their religious beliefs.
Liberty Institute President and CEO Kelly Shackelford:
As today’s Supreme Court ruling recognizes, Americans have a constitutional right to speak and act according to their beliefs. In the marriage debate, many people of faith—from small businesses owners to students, soldiers, and chaplains—have been persecuted for their religious beliefs about marriage. We will not allow people of faith to be silenced or censured because of their religious beliefs, and we appreciate that the Court unanimously recognized the importance of protecting religious liberty in this area. Liberty Institute remains undeterred in our mission to defend and restore every American’s right to religious liberty.
This article was updated to include additional statements from officials.
Bob Price is a senior political news contributor for Breitbart Texas and a member of the original Breitbart Texas team. Follow him on Twitter @BobPriceBBTX.