Updated: 3:50 p.m. CST
AUSTIN, Texas — Republican Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton said Friday the state’s same-sex marriage ban has been “needlessly cast in doubt” after a judge gave a lesbian couple from Austin permission to tie the knot.
Paxton asked the Supreme Court of Texas to declare the marriage license issued to Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend invalid. Paxton warned of “legal chaos” if the court doesn’t make clear that a judge wrongly allowed the couple to wed.
“A clear statement is necessary so that all judges within Texas understand that this Court or the U.S. Supreme Court will decide the constitutionality of Texas law,” Paxton wrote.
An attorney for Bryant and Goodfriend did not immediately return a phone message Friday but has contended that the license is valid.
State District Judge David Wahlberg, an elected Democrat, on Thursday ordered the Travis County Clerk to issue the couple a license. He based his order on a probate court judge’s ruling on Tuesday that the state’s ban on same-sex marriage is unconstitutional. Paxton said Wahlberg relied on an order that violated state law – because he wasn’t notified first of the constitutional challenge.
Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, whose office issued the license, said that Paxton’s allegations “are not accurate.” She added, “That’s not the way that it happened.”
Wahlberg declined to comment.
Former Supreme Court of Texas justice Craig Enoch said the statute that requires notifying the Attorney General when something has been deemed unconstitutional was crafted to avoid these types of situations. The statute also requires courts to wait 45 days before making a final ruling on a law’s constitutionality.
“Somebody was supposed to notify the Attorney General,” said Enoch, a Republican who served on the court from 1993 to 2003 and is now in private practice. “At a minimum, it would seem to me that the clerk was not in a position to issue the license.”