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One more holdout concedes

Hood County and its outspoken County Clerk bow to the inevitable.

Counties issuing same sex marriage licenses

A Texas county clerk said on Tuesday her office will issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, reversing a previous decision that was based on religious objections.

Some counties in other socially conservative states such as Kentucky have declined to issue such licenses since the U.S. Supreme Court said on Friday the U.S. Constitution provides same-sex couples the right to marry. The controversy could result in a new round of lawsuits over gay marriage.

Katie Lang, clerk of Hood County, southwest of Fort Worth, said staffers will issue the licenses although she will not do so based on her Christian beliefs, which she believes are protected under the Constitution.

“I am grateful that the First Amendment continues to protect the sincerely held religious beliefs of public servants like me. That has not changed since last Friday,” Lang said.

Hood County will begin processing same-sex marriage applications when it receives the appropriate forms, she said.

Lang had previously drawn attention for her mule-headed defiance, so it’s a particular pleasure to see her cave. As both Somervell County Salon and the Dallas Voice note, she’s not exactly being honest about her earlier actions, but at this point I don’t care. The point is that her office is doing its duty. Everything else is details.

Overall, we’re not quite at half of Texas counties being in compliance, but the vast majority of people live in a county where a same-sex marriage license is now available.

The Austin-based group Equality Texas has been tallying Texas counties that have confirmed they are issuing the newly legal marriage licenses, and the number as of Tuesday afternoon was 115. It’s an inexact count, but it lines up with a tally taken by the Dallas Morning News on Friday.

Project coordinator and Equality Texas legislative specialist Daniel Williams said that doesn’t mean none of the remaining 139 counties are issuing licenses — only that a substantial number are not.

“For the most part, there seems to be confusion about how to do it,” Williams said. “In some cases the counties have data systems that have to interact with the [federal] Bureau of Vital Statistics forms, and they’re having difficulty getting the systems to line up.”

When the Houston Chronicle called around to about a dozen county clerks, many echoed that conundrum. Seven counties were still waiting on software updates, and they relied on a variety of manufacturers, both in and out of state, who they said were working with a severe backlog because of the quantity of requests for updated digital forms.

“Some counties were prepared for this and some were overwhelmed and were taken unaware,” Williams said.

Many depend on software products from Plano-based Tyler Technologies or San Antonio-based Property Info, and are waiting on the companies to issue updates.

Officials in Hill County, north of Waco, said they were waiting on an updated design for their physical marriage license from Wichita Falls-based Bear Graphics. None of the three companies was immediately available for comment Tuesday.

However, even counties waiting on products to issue same-sex marriage licenses said they would be ready as soon as possible. Most estimated they’d be ready within days. Some predicted early next week.

The embedded image is from Williams’ Facebook page. As of last night, with Hood County in the fold, the count was at 117, covering 84% of the state’s population. At this point I’m not aware of any other Lang-level disobedience – it’s all just waiting for the upgrades, which may or may not reflect a certain amount of disorganization or unpreparedness, but at least isn’t willfulness. My guess at this point would be that by this time next week we should be at or pretty close to full compliance. Stay tuned.

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4 Comments

  1. Longhorn Sally says:

    Worth pointing out that an awful lot of those counties in the west may go an entire calendar year without a marriage license request from ANY couple, much less a homosexual one.

  2. […] of those 175 counties in that report was Hood. That was because Hood County Clerk Katie Lang had appeared to concede the fight. […]

  3. SCSALON says:

    Yes on adding that Somervell County (Glen Rose) and Johnson County (Cleburne) both needed to do software upgrades so that the licences can be properly entered into the computer system, but have zip problem with issuing the licenses. That’s far different than Ms Lang, who decided that she could, as the chief clerk for Hood County tell all subordinates they had to do what HER *religious freedom* opinion was. Bud Kennedy of the FW Star-Telegram posted this from Texas Senator Brian Birdwell’s speech re: Lang in which there’s a certain irony http://txvalues.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Sen.-Birdwell-Letter-Katie-Lang-Rally-Granbury.pdf “The fundamental problem before
    those of us who disagree with the LGBT community is that this group seeks to
    force you and I to conform to their viewpoint and to compel us to keep our
    opinions to ourselves, essentially eliminating the ability for men and women of
    faith to participate in public policy discourse and debate. To do so is to strip us
    of our inherent right to live out our faith.” … UNLESS of course it’s Katie Lang seeking to force all, including ALL the clerks in the Hood County office to HER viewpoint.

  4. SCSALON says:

    One more update from today from Hood County News http://hcnews.com/pages/updates/federal-lawsuit-filed-against-county-clerk-in-same-sex-union-controversy/ “A federal lawsuit was filed electronically early Monday morning (July 6) against County Clerk Katie Lang on behalf of two men who were denied a marriage license, even though the Supreme Court has struck down a ban on gay marriages. Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton of Hood County were allowed to apply for a marriage license late last Thursday, but Lang refused to take their $83 fee and also refused to issue them a marriage license until new paperwork arrives in three weeks. More than 200 other county clerks in Texas have been issuing the licenses. The men claim they were refused an application numerous times when they phoned Lang’s office asking for one. They were allowed to fill out that paperwork once they went into Lang’s office with their attorneys, Jan Soifer and Austin Kaplan, who had driven to Granbury from Austin. The complaint, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, asks that the men be issued a marriage license.”