The State Bar of Texas has dismissed a grievance complaint against Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and his AG opinion interpreting the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage. Democrat lawyer Steve Fischer led the effort and solicited others on Facebook to join him. A grievance filed by a gay former Democrat state legislator and current Democratic Party of Texas staffer has also not resulted in disciplinary action.
As reported by Breitbart Texas in July 2015, Glen Maxey, the former six-term Democrat Texas legislator from Austin, filed a complaint against Paxton accusing him of “misleading county and state officials based on a false premise.” Maxey served as the first openly gay legislator in the Texas State House of Representatives. Maxey was employed by the Texas Democratic Party at the time he filed the complaint and is still listed on the Party’s website as the Legislative Affairs Director. Maxey is also the author of a book questioning the sexuality of former Governor Rick Perry. A group of approximately 300 lawyers led by lawyer Steve Fischer sent the AG a letter threatening to file a complaint if he did not withdraw the attorney general opinion within 25 days.
In Maxey’s complaint to the State Bar of Texas, he said the AG “was hired or appointed to … defend me as a resident of Texas and uphold the Constitution,” and added, “My taxes pay his salary.” The Democrat gay activist complained that the Texas Attorney General “has issued an opinion that advises state and county officials to violate the United States Constitution.”
Fischer, a Democrat former district attorney from Willacy County, told Breitbart Texas that he and a criminal defense lawyer from Fort Worth, Brian Bouffard, had each collected 150 signatures from “passive Facebook posting.” After the complaint was dismissed, Fischer said he believes that the office would be best served if it were “non-partisan.”
Claire Mock, Public Affairs Counsel for the Office of the Chief Disciplinary Counsel for the State Bar of Texas confirmed only that “Mr. Paxton has no public disciplinary history in Texas.”
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 Attorney General Paxton’s 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.”
As noted on the Office of Attorney General (OAG) website, the Texas Constitution, and the Texas Government Code grants the attorney general the authority to issue attorney general opinions. It is a non-binding legal opinion. The website explains it is “a written interpretation of existing law.” It also notes, “Attorney general opinions do not necessarily reflect the attorney general’s personal views, nor does the attorney general in any way ‘rule’ on what the law should say.”
Following publication of this article, Glen Maxey offered the following statement to Breitbart Texas:
“The State Bar of Texas is nothing more than a trade group created to protect its members from public scrutiny. It’s complaint and discipline system is a joke and embarrassment to Texas. They dismissed this complaint outright within weeks of it being filed. The actions of the Attorney General on their face were in violation of the rules of professional conduct. The State Bar ignored the plain words of their own rules because they protect their own.”
This article has been updated to reflect new statements offered after publication.