Denied marriage licence, same-sex couple sues US official

Washington, July 7 (IANS) A same-sex couple in the US state of Texas has filed a lawsuit against an official who refused to issue marriage licences to homosexual couples despite a June-end Supreme Court ruling that legalises gay marriages across the US.
Hood County Clerk Katie Lang has been embroiled in controversy since she announced her decision not to issue marriage licences to homosexuals on the grounds that “marriage is for one man and one woman, because it did derive from the Bible”.

“I could get fined and I could get sued. But you could get sued for anything,” she added on being warned against possible legal action.

She did not have to wait long as just ten days after the Supreme Court ruling, Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton filed a lawsuit against her, Efe news agency reported.

Cato and Stapleton, who have been together for 27 years, tried to obtain a marriage licence in their home county on July 2, but the officials refused, saying they did not have the proper forms.

The two men sourced the forms themselves and returned to the public offices in Granbury city.

However, Lang called the sheriff’s department, which deployed several officers, to get them off the premises.

Cato and Stapleton then decided to seek judicial recourse.

Lang immediately responded to the complaint and issued a marriage licence to the couple, despite her earlier “religious objections”.

However, Jan Soifer, the couple’s attorney, told the newspaper San Antonio Express-News that the couple would not drop the lawsuit “until and unless we have an agreement from Clerk Lang that her office will issue marriage licences to all couples, gay and straight, without delay”.

They also sought legal reimbursement from the county clerk.

It is great “they finally have been issued a marriage licence and can get married in their home county”, Soifer said adding it was a “shame they needed to hire lawyers and file a lawsuit to make that happen”.

Last week, Granbury witnessed protests from supporters and critics of same-sex marriage following Lang’s decision.

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