July 2, 2015
Contact: Robert Soard
First Assistant County Attorney
Harris County Attorney Vince Ryan today thanked Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee for sending to the U.S. Attorney General his opinion on the county clerk’s obligations to follow the U.S. Supreme Court decision on same-sex marriage.
In her letter, Congresswoman Jackson Lee told AG Loretta Lynch that she was providing copies of the information County Attorney Ryan gave local officials so it would be on the record with the U.S. Department of Justice that Harris County is in compliance with the court’s ruling. She pointed out that Ryan is not in agreement with Texas’ Attorney General.
“In an effort to clear up any distortions about the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision,” Congresswoman Jackson Lee stated, “my County Attorney in Harris County, Texas, Vince Ryan, has issued a legal opinion on the issue of same-sex marriages and also provided answers to questions regarding the conduct of marriage ceremonies for same-sex couples and the issuance of marriage licenses to same sex couples over religious objections.”
In addition to his June 26 memo advising the Harris County Clerk that he had to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples, Ryan also issued an opinion July 1 that advised that any judge or justice of the peace who performs marriages must also perform them for same- sex couples.
In his opinion, Ryan also addressed the issue of the county clerk or deputy clerks having a religious objection to issuing a marriage license to a same-sex couple. The County Attorney’s opinion is that a clerk without objections must be found to issue a license to a same-sex couple. However, if no other such employees are available, then the clerk or deputy clerk is required by law to perform the duty of issuing the marriage license despite the objections.