A legal shot across the bow or a crack in the dam, no matter how you want to describe it in metaphor, the legal marriage of two women in Austin, Texas continues to show that state same-sex marriage bans are just as likely to be ended in "death by a thousand cuts" as they are by one major Supreme Court ruling.
Travis County District Judge David Wahlberg is the latest Austin area judge to get involved in the fight over same-sex marriage in Texas, which has ranged from horrible to ridiculous, according to the Austin-American Statesman. Wahlberg directed the Travis County Clerk to issue a marriage license to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant. The order was subsequently blocked by the Texas Supreme Court and attorneys for both the state and the couple disagree on whether or not the marriage is valid, according to the Texas Tribune.
Wahlberg's order directed the Travis County Clerk to "cease and desist relying on the unconstitutional Texas prohibitions against same-sex marriage" and issue the couple a license. However, the order was only issued for Goodfriend and Bryant, and only because of Goodfriend's immediate medical needs—she has been diagnosed with, and had surgery for, ovarian cancer.
Unsurprisingly, my former State representative and senator, Ken Paxton, who is now the Attorney General, announced that the Texas supreme court's block essentially voided the couple's marriage regardless of what the couple's own lawyer, Chuck Herring, has said. Herring claims that the block occurred after the marriage license was properly issued and registered. I believe this is the legal equivalent of "no take-backsies," but finally working for same-sex couples this time, instead of against.
They're already married. It's cold-hearted, mean-spirited and unseemly to try to do that to an ovarian cancer victim and her family.
Paxton has also filed a suit in order to prevent Travis County from issuing more licenses, even though Wahlberg's order was very, very narrow, and the Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said she issued the license specifically to comply with the order. Despite this, Paxton seems to believe that Travis County, long an island of progressive politics (or, you know, sanity, as I like to remember it), will declare war on the sea of conservative curmudgeons currently running the state government by issuing ALL THE LICENSES.
The law of Texas has not changed, and will not change due to the whims of any individual judge or county clerk operating on their own capacity anywhere in Texas. Activist judges don't change Texas law and we will continue to aggressively defend the laws of our state and will ensure that any licenses issued contrary to law are invalid.
Oh, how I wish this were so, but it is not. Sure, activist judges, Ken, you just keep telling yourself that. Just like all of those activist judges sitting on the federal benches all over the country who have declared state same-sex marriage bans are unconstitutional. Activist judges don't change Texas law, but Constitutional interpretations do. Texas law is invalid, and whether it takes until this summer or another five or ten years, Goodfriend and Bryant will win the day, and you just look silly.
Image via AP.