After today’s sweeping ruling by the Supreme Court of the United States, striking down bans on marriage equality in all 50 states, the Human Rights Campaign (HRC), the nation’s largest lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) civil rights organization, called on Texas officials to act with all deliberate speed to remove remaining obstacles to marriage equality.
In a letter to Governor Gregg Abbott and Attorney General Ken Paxton, HRC’s Legal Director Sarah Warbelow made the case for immediate action:
"In order to be in full compliance with the law, we urge you to take immediate action to ensure that Judges or Justices of the Peace begin issuing marriage licenses to all eligible Texas couples immediately. […] Delaying the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is not only unlawful, but allows the discriminatory impacts of an unconstitutional law to continue."
HRC also issued letters to the governors and attorneys general of Arkansas, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Tennessee (states where marriage licenses were not previously being issued to same-sex couples statewide) and of Alabama (where the state supreme court had sought to obstruct the issuance of marriage licenses).
In a sweeping 5-4 ruling issued earlier today, the majority of the Supreme Court made clear that bans on marriage equality did not pass constitutional muster—and that all 50 states should begin extending the right to marry to all committed and loving couples.
The full text of HRC’s letter is as follows:
Dear Governor Abbott,
On behalf of the Human Rights Campaign’s (HRC) more than 1.5 million members nationwide, I write in light of today’s Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. As you are aware, this landmark decision has invalidated your state’s ban on same-sex marriage. Under this case, Texas is also required to recognize all marriages legally entered into in other states and jurisdictions, including those between same-sex couples. In order to be in full compliance with the law, we urge you to take immediate action to ensure that Judges or Justices of the Peace begin issuing marriage licenses to all eligible Texas couples immediately. We also urge you to take affirmative steps to communicate the meaning and reach of this case to all government officials tasked with performing and recognizing marriages, including those performed outside of the state of Texas. This Supreme Court decision requires the state of Texas to recognize out-of-state marriages for all purposes including inheritance and medical decision making.
Delaying the issuance of marriage licenses to same-sex couples is not only unlawful, but allows the discriminatory impacts of an unconstitutional law to continue. In addition to access to recognition on the state level, same-sex couples will now have access to all federal benefits and services that have been out of their reach because of these laws. Lifeline programs like Social Security and Veterans Benefits look to the state of residence to determine eligibility. Further delaying implementation of this decision arbitrarily prevents these otherwise eligible couples and spouses from accessing these critical federal benefits.
We thank you for the opportunity to bring these issues to your attention. We hope that as the Governor, you will take the steps necessary to fully represent every Texan— including the almost 600,000 who identify as LGBT. As a result of this decision there is only one way – and that is forward.
HRC Legal Director CC Ken Paxton
The Human Rights Campaign is America’s largest civil rights organization working to achieve lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender equality. HRC envisions a world where LGBT people are embraced as full members of society at home, at work and in every community.
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