Abbott Signs Same Sex Marriage 'Religious Freedom' Protection


Gov. Greg Abbott has signed a controversial 'religious freedom' bill, which allows County Clerks not to have their names appear on licenses for same sex marriages in certain circumstances, News Radio 1200 WOAI reports.

The bill changes the statutory wording to read that marriage licenses issued by a county government 'may but not require' the elected County Clerk to have his or her name appear on the license.

Attorney Jonathan Saenz, who heads the group 'Texas Values,' says people shouldn't be forced by the government to participate in an activity that goes against their religious beliefs.

"We don't think County Clerks should go to jail because of their beliefs on marriage, and there shouldn't be religious tests for working for the government," he said.

Saenz says the bill was based on trials clerks have had problems reconciling their religious beliefs with the 2015 Obergefell U.S. Supreme Court ruling that same sex marriage is constitutional. 

 A County Clerk in Kentucky went to jail for objecting to the marriages on religious grounds.

He says similar problems are brewing here.

"One Clerk in the Dallas area has made it public that he supports marriage between a man and a woman, and people there locally have harassed him, and have followed him home."

A companion bill that would have allowed Clerks to decline to sign same sex marriage licenses if there was another person available who could sign the license was not approve in the Legislature.

A series of 'religious freedom' bills that would allow all sorts of people, from attorneys to florists to venue owners to decline to provide services for same sex marriage ceremonies died in the Legislature.

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