A Republican justice of the peace in Dallas County, Texas, has shared a Facebook message declaring his refusal to perform marriages for same-sex couples based on his religious beliefs, in what appears to be “a blatant violation of the law” reports the New Civil Rights Movement.
Bill Metzger cited an opinion issued by Attorney General Ken Paxton that he says “came as a result of a request from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick.”
Paxton’s opinion concluded that judges and justices of the peace “may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies over their religious objections, when other authorized individuals have no objection, because it is not the least restrictive means of the government ensuring the ceremonies occur.”
Metzger writes on Facebook: “As I said back in June of last year, because of my faith in God as a devout Catholic I will be only be conducting traditional marriages. Recently, I have been asked about my beliefs and stance on traditional marriage. I think it is important to point out that this is the law in Texas per Attorney General Ken Paxton’s legal interpretation via opinion KG-0025: “Justices of the peace retain religious freedoms, and may claim that the government cannot force them to conduct same-sex wedding ceremonies over their religious objections.” This came as a result of a request from Texas Lt. Governor Dan Patrick. As such, it is not true for someone to say they are required by law to conduct a non-traditional wedding.”
He continues: “General Paxton’s opinion can be found here. It is clear that any Justice of the Peace in Texas can refuse to perform a non-traditional wedding when that wedding can be performed by others. My sincerely held religious belief keeps me from being forced to conduct anything but a traditional wedding as a Judge per our Attorney General.”
Attorney Cece Cox, executive director of Dallas’ LGBT community center, agreed with Ryan.
“If he chooses not to marry a gay couple, he’ll be in violation of the law,” Cox told WFAA-TV.
“He’s not on solid legal footing, either by the laws of the state of Texas, or the Constitution,” said Retired Dallas County District Judge John Creuzot, a Democrat and longtime LGBT ally. “If I do marriages, I either do none or all. … It’s a bad signal to be a judge, even if it is a justice of the peace, and then make an independent decision that you’re going to follow the law for some folks and not for others.”