Tuesday, August 18, 2015

Hood County TX settles suit against clerk Katie Lang for $44K


Hood County, TX will pay $44,000 to two men, James Cato and Joe Stapleton, who were humiliated by County Clerk Katie Lang who refused to issue a marriage license. The settlement will not personally benefit the plaintiffs. Rather, it settles their legal fees to date in return for dropping the action. Lang was represented by Liberty Institute which seems to benefit from ADF's leftovers.

Taxpayers got off easy. Counsel for the plaintiffs estimated that the exposure was in excess of $500,000. The attorneys say that they will donate a portion of the settlement to the Equality Texas Foundation. I suspect that Cato and Stapleton just wanted to get this idiocy behind them.

As I noted on July 3, on Friday, June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court announced its landmark marriage equality decision in Obergefell v. Hodges. On that same day in Granbury, Texas (population 8,800), Hood County Clerk Katie Lang refused to issue same-sex marriage licenses. The following Tuesday Lang announced that she would not comply with the ruling until a court told her that she was violating the law. She called the Supreme Court decision “a newly invented right.”

Lang also cited a memorandum from Attorney General Ken Paxton that was issued on Sunday, June 28. According to Paxton, county clerks and justices of the peace were not obligated to issue licenses or perform same-sex marriages if they have personal religious objections. At the same time the memo noted that clerks who did not issue licenses could be subject to lawsuits. Attorneys with the ACLU advised that anyone following Paxton's advice would be breaking the law.

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