Contact: DeAnne Cuellar, firstname.lastname@example.org
This week a Dallas County Justice of the Peace, Bill Metzger, used his Facebook page to contemplate breaking the law and the Texas Code of Judicial Conduct by refusing to marry same-sex couples.
In 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that laws like Texas’ law prohibiting the recognition of marriages between two people of the same sex were unconstitutional.
Statement from Chuck Smith, CEO of Equality Texas:
“In Texas, the power of Justices of the Peace to officiate marriage ceremonies is optional. Justice Metzger has every right to choose whether or not to exercise that optional power. However, if Metzger chooses to officiate any marriage ceremony in his capacity as an elected official, he is bound by the law to make that service equally available to every qualified member of the public.”
This is not the first time a Texas Justice of the Peace has attempted to restrict access to marriages they officiate based on their personal beliefs. In 1983, a Justice of the Peace refused to perform marriages for interracial couples despite the Supreme Court’s ruling in Loving v. Virginia. Attorney General Jim Mattox stated his opinion on the matter. “Once a justice of the peace undertakes to exercise the authority to marry people granted him by Article 1.83 of the Family Code he may not, consistent with the equal protection clause of the United States Constitution, refuse to conduct a marriage ceremony for the reason that the parties are not of the same race.”
“When Justice Metzger publicly exercises his authority to marry people, granted by Texas law, he may not legally refuse to conduct same-sex marriage ceremonies. Ignoring or defying a ruling by the United States Supreme Court is mean-spirited, misguided, and could cost Texas taxpayers millions of dollars in litigation costs.