Gay Couple to Sue Hood County Clerk Over Marriage License

Austin, Texas (TexasTribune) – Attorneys for a same-sex couple are preparing to sue Hood County Clerk Katie Lang after the couple was unable to obtain a marriage license.

Two Austin attorneys representing Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, who have been together for 27 years, sent a letter to Lang on Thursday demanding that her office issue the couple a marriage license by the end of the business day or risk being sued in federal court Monday morning.

As of Thursday evening, the couple was unable to obtain a marriage license from the county, so attorney Jan Soifer confirmed that they would move forward with filing suit.

Lang did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples have a constitutional right to marry and that states must license a marriage between two people of the same sex. Citing her religious beliefs, Lang initially said her office would not grant same-sex marriage licenses.

She later backtracked, saying that she would “personally refrain” from issuing licenses but that other members of her staff would grant the licenses once “the appropriate forms have been printed and supplied to my office,” Lang wrote in a statement posted to the county website.

But obtaining those forms — the county clerk’s office told The Dallas Morning News — could take three weeks.

Pointing to revised forms available on the Department of State Health Services’ website,Soifer and attorney Austin Kaplan wrote that Lang had “absolutely no valid reason” to delay issuing marriage licenses.

LGBT. Image Source: Denise Coronel, Flickr, Creative Commons.

LGBT.
Image Source: Denise Coronel, Flickr, Creative Commons.

“Our clients have been waiting for 27 years to marry, they have a constitutional right to obtain a marriage license in Hood County, where they reside, and there is no valid reason for them to have to wait ‘at least another three weeks’,” the attorneys wrote.

Written by  for The Texas Tribune.

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