It will be a great day once we stop hearing about who is and who isn't issuing same-sex marriage licenses, but until then, let's put a positive spin on the negative.
While some Texas county clerks are still refusing to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, one openly gay official in conservative Lamar County says he was honored to do so.
Russ Towers was appointed Lamar County clerk on April 1 after his predecessor retired. He previously served as the county’s appointed elections administrator for seven years. Towers, 39, is believed to be the only openly gay county clerk in the state and the first out official in Lamar County, 100 miles northeast of Dallas.
Since the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, Towers said he’s issued four marriage licenses to same-sex couples, including three on the first day (original article was on Monday July 6th).
“I had done a lot of consulting with other larger counties and my county attorney as well, and I decided to go ahead and pull the trigger, do the right thing,” Towers told the Observer. – Texasobserver.com
What does Towers think of other clerks that are deciding for themselves what is the right and wrong thing to do?
In the wake of the high court’s ruling, [Attorney General Ken] Paxton issued an opinion suggesting that county clerks could refuse to issue licenses to same-sex couples, although they might be sued. Paxton also said attorneys likely would be willing to represent those clerks free of charge.
“What they didn’t tell those clerks is that your bond may not cover you, and can also be personally liable for official oppression,” Towers said.
Towers said one of three employees who issue marriage licenses in his office requested that she not be required to do so for same-sex couples due to religious objections. However, he said if she’s the only one available, she’ll be required to.
“The customer is the first priority, and no one’s right is going to be denied because she’s the only one in the room,” he said.
Are there others out there in Texas like Towers that are issuing licenses? Of course there are. We just haven't heard of a Gay Republican doing it until now. Here's a map of where same-sex marriage licenses are being issues and where the are being denied. Go to dallasnews.com story from one week ago for an interactive maps where you can see the names of the counties.
Ahh, not as bad as we thought. It looks like about it's 50 / 50. Are the delays all because of religious reasons? Not at all. Here again is another map, but this time it shows that only 2 counties are citing religious reasons for not issuing same-sex marriage licenses. Remember, the grey (n/a) counties are issuing licenses. The other reasons? Once again, you can go to dallasnews.com story for an interactive map.
I guess Mr. Towers has the right forms and all of his software is up to date. Imagine that!
It sounds like Towers is doing his job. I remember working with military students when I was an academic advisor and it was well understood that if you did what was expected of your position, the military students did not say thank you too much since you were just doing your job. Why thank someone for doing their job was the understanding. Towers is just doing his job, but in the light of all the ones not doing their job, it is right and just to tell him "thank you." THANK YOU.
Of course, just doing his job may not settle well with all of his fellow citizens. Does Towers worry?
“I am out, and nothing will ever change that. I suppose that could make some people uncomfortable, but I think most people who are active voters can recognize the changes that I made as an elections administrator to improve their voting experience, and maybe that will be enough to sway them to trust me in the job that I do as county clerk.” – Texasobserver.com
I recommend going over to the Texasobserver.com and read more of their article about Russ Towers. Sounds like more than someone just doing his job. Sounds like an outstanding individual.
But Russ, please don't look at me like this. I may forget why I came into the county clerk's office in the first place.
For more pics of Russ, Out.com did post some very nice gym selfies of our Gay Republican. Head on over there to see them if you wish.