A gay former Democrat state legislator has filed a state bar complaint against the Texas attorney general for his opinion interpreting the recent U.S. Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision.
Moreover, a group of approximately 300 attorneys sent the AG a letter threatening to file a complaint if he does not withdraw his opinion within 25 days.
Former six-term Texas legislator Glen Maxey (D-Austin) filed a complaint against Paxton accusing him of “misleading county and state officials based on a false premise.”
Maxey, who hails from Austin, served as the first openly gay legislator in the Texas State House of Representatives. The Texas Democratic Party now employs him. Maxey also the author of a book questioning the sexuality of former Governor Rick Perry.
Maxey complains that the AG “was hired or appointed to … defend me as a resident of Texas and uphold the Constitution.” He hand-writes on a form used for filing grievances, “My taxes pay his salary.”
The Democrat gay activist attached a copy of the Attorney General Opinion to his letter, and states that Paxton “has issued an opinion that advises state and county officials to violate the United States Constitution.”
Maxey invokes Obergefell v. Hodges, and a federal court from the Western District of Texas, saying “in flagrant violation of those rulings,” Paxton “has advised state government officials and employees including county clerks, judges, and justices of the peace, that they may refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses or conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies if doing so would ‘violate their sincerely held religions beliefs.’”
Maxey cites six of the professional rules governing the conduct for lawyers. In interpreting one of those, he states “Paxton has a conflict of interest because his representation of his client (the State) is conflicted with his own self-interest in demagogic self-promotion to pander to his right-wing Tea Party supporters, even at the sacrifice of the rights of Texans under the United States Constitution.”
The Democratic Party operative also complains that “Paxton has clearly made [a] ‘false statement of law’ to the public” and accuses the AG of “engaging in conduct involving deceit, dishonesty, and misrepresentation, in issuing the false and misleading opinion.” He also urges that the AG violated his oath of office.
Attorney Steve Fischer told Breitbart Texas that approximately 300 attorneys have signed a letter giving Paxton 25 days to withdraw his official opinion. Fischer has served as a State Bar of Texas director, and as the district attorney for Willacy County. The 25-day deadline relates to the time period in which the Supreme Court has to issue a mandate making its same-sex marriage decision final. Fischer works as a lawyer in the El Paso and Rockport, Texas, areas.
Fischer told Breitbart Texas that he and Brian Bouffard, a criminal defense lawyer from Fort Worth, have each collected 150 signatures from “passive Facebook posting.” Fischer says there are over 80 Facebook shares outstanding as of the time of publication; therefore, he anticipates gathering more names.
Fischer complains that Paxton has violated several sections of the Texas Rules of Disciplinary Conduct, including obstruction of justice, and the rules governing the oath of an attorney to uphold the U.S. Constitution.
Fischer’s letter to Paxton states, “Passion in the pursuit of policy is an admirable attribute for our Texas Leaders. Sometimes, however, our zeal for making the world conform to our beliefs conflicts with established law and ethical rules.” His letter continues, “As Texas Attorney General, you have sworn an oath to protect the People of Texas, whether they be Liberal or Conservative, Democrat or Republican, or, as the case may be, ‘Gay’ or ‘Straight.’”
Fischer told Breitbart Texas that the letter represents “a non-partisan effort by Texas lawyers who are bound by law to uphold our disciplinary and ethical rules.” He says he will use an online petition site to gather more grievance signatures “[i]f Paxton doesn’t relent.”
In an article entitled “Texas Fights Back Against Gay Marriage Ruling,” Breitbart Texas reported that the Texas attorney general responded to the “newly invented federal constitutional right to same-sex marriage” by telling Texas officials that “Texas must speak with one voice against this lawlessness.” He also said Texans must “act on multiple levels to further protect religious liberties for all Texans” and must “immediately do anything we can to help our County Clerks and public officials who now are forced with defending their religious beliefs against the Court’s ruling.”
It was his legal opinion that county clerks could delegate the responsibility of issuing same-sex marriage licenses to deputy clerks who did not have a religious exception to doing so. As it relates to judges, retired judges, priests, ministers, or Jewish rabbis, he opined, “These individuals are permitted to perform any marriage ceremony, but nothing in Texas law requires them to do so.”
Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and an associate family court judge. Follow her on Twitter@LanaShadwick2