Same-sex couple threaten to sue Hood County clerk over marriage license delay

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Katie Lang via Hood County Clerk's website
Katie Lang via Hood County Clerk’s website

Attorneys for a same-sex couple have notified Hood County clerk Katie Lang that they intend to sue her for refusing to issue their clients a marriage license.

Attorneys for Dr. Jim Cato and Mr. Joe Stapleton, who have been together for 27 years, sent a letter to Lang on Thursday demanding the couple be issued marriage licenses or a federal lawsuit will be filed Monday, July 7.

According to the letter Lang’s office told the couple that her office would not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples based upon her religious beliefs.

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As recently as Tuesday afternoon the Hood County clerk’s website stated “I will not be issuing same-sex marriage license’s [sic] due to my religious convictions.”  Citing Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton’s opinion in support of her position.

She has since backtracked saying “the religious doctrines to which I adhere compel me to personally refrain from issuing same-sex marriage licenses,” but that other staff members would issue them as soon as the appropriate forms have been printed and supplied to her office.

“Because some have misreported and misconstrued my prior statements, I want to make clear that the County Clerk’s Office of Hood County will comply with the recent decision of the Supreme Court of the United States.”

Attorneys for the couple say that Lang has “absolutely no valid reason” to delay as updated forms are already available online by the Texas Department of State Health Services.

“Our clients have been waiting over 27 years to marry, they have a constitutional right to obtain a marriage license in Hood County, where they reside, and there is no valid reason for them to have to wait ‘at least another three weeks’,” the attorneys wrote. “Every day that our clients must wait to be treated like other Texas couples causes them significant harm. On their behalf, and on behalf of other same-sex couples in Hood County, Texas, we demand that you allow them to apply for a marriage license today and issue them a license before the close of business Thursday. If you fail to do so, our firm will take legal action against you in federal court on Monday, July 7, 2015.”

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