States map 2015 for blog Written by Don Byrd

Many state officials are responding to the Supreme Court’s same-sex marriage decision (Obergefell) with various expressions of concern over the ruling’s potential impact on religious liberty.

Texas’ Attorney General issued an opinion suggesting county clerks may (but may not) be protected by law if they refuse on religious grounds to issue marriage licenses. In Kentucky, a lawsuit has been filed challenging a county clerk’s religious refusal to issue licenses. In North Carolina, legislators anticipated the ruling by passing a law prior to Obergefell allowing county clerks with religious objections to opt-out from providing marriage licenses.

Meanwhile, the Attorneys General of several states petitioned Congress to pass a federal law offering religious liberty protections. (Read the letter here).

In Kansas, Governor Sam Brownback issued Executive Order 15-05. The order prohibits state government from taking action against clergy or religious organizations for refusing to participate in marriage ceremonies or provide social services on the basis of a sincerely held religious objection to same-sex marriage.

The Wichita Eagle reports:

“We have a duty to govern and to govern in accordance with the Constitution as it has been determined by the Supreme Court decision,” Brownback said in a statement. “We also recognize that religious liberty is at the heart of who we are as Kansans and Americans, and should be protected.”

The order means “a homeless shelter that received a state contract or grant could refuse family housing to a gay couple with a child, or a foster care agency could refuse to place a child in their custody with the child’s family member just because the family member was in a same-sex relationship – and the state could not require them to treat all families equally,” said Micah Kubic, executive director of the Kansas chapter of the ACLU.

You can read the Executive Order here.