On June 26 the U.S. Supreme Court, in a 5-4 ruling, legalized gay marriage nationwide, prompting a wide array of reactions from Texas politicians.
After learning of the landmark ruling, Gov. Greg Abbott Tweeted: “Marriage was defined by God.”
“No man can redefine it,” he added. “We will defend our religious liberties.”
The high court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges, which was consolidated with several other similar cases, found that state bans on same-sex marriage violated both the due process and equal protection rights protected by the Fourteenth Amendment.
Texas is one of eight states where gay marriage bans had been overturned but were appealed.
Abbott also issued a written statement on the ruling, accusing the Supreme Court of abandoning its role as an impartial judicial arbiter and instead acting like 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,” Abbott said.
“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.”
On June 11 Abbott signed the Pastor Protection Act, shielding pastors and churches from lawsuits regarding their refusal to perform or host a marriage ceremony.
A day prior to the high court’s ruling, Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement urging county officials to wait for a legal decision from the AG’s Office before issuing same-sex marriage licenses.
On the day of the ruling, the Texas AG made the following post on his Facebook account:
“Following the high court's flawed ruling on states’ constitutional right to define marriage, our next fight is religious liberty. Today’s ruling marks a radical departure from countless generations of societal law and tradition. Far from a victory for anyone, this is instead a dilution of marriage as a societal institution.
“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.”
In their majority opinion, justices found that the fundamental liberties protected by the Fourteenth Amendment’s Due Process Clause extend to certain personal choices, “like choices concerning contraception, family relationships, procreation, and childrearing, all of which are protected by the Constitution, decisions concerning marriage are among the most intimate that an individual can make,” the opinion states.
Not all Texas politicians frowned upon the decision.
State Rep. Chris Turner, D-Grand Prairie, released the following statement:
"This is truly a historic day. Millions of men and women across our nation will have the ability to legally marry the person they love. Finally, LGBT Texans in committed relationships, will be afforded the same rights as other married couples.
"Unfortunately, here in Texas, today's decision will face resistance by our state's leadership. Like many that have come before, history will prove this decision to be the right one. I urge our state's Republican leaders to not impede the progress that has been made."