Will Texas Nix Marriage Licensing? Yes — if Rep. David Simpson Gets His Way

by | Jul 6, 2015


Texas state Rep. David Simpson (R-Longview) has an intriguing response to Obergefell v. Hodges, the United States Supreme Court decision imposing a national mandate to override the diverse ways in which state governments deal with same sex marriage. Simpson is asking Texas Governor Greg Abbott to declare a special session of the state legislature to consider Simpson’s proposal that Texas end marriage licensing in the state.

Simpson’s radical response to the court’s decision should not be too surprising given that earlier this year he responded to the war on marijuana with a bill that would eliminate all Texas laws regarding marijuana so the plant would be treated the same as tomatoes, jalapeños, or coffee. Also, back in 2011, Simpson responded to the US Transportation Security Administration’s frisking of travelers with legislation that would hold TSA employees accountable for such actions under state assault prohibitions.

While some people will be quick to write off Simpson’s proposal to end marriage licensing as unrealistic, it should be noted that state licensing of marriages has not been the norm throughout American history. In addition, Simpson’s record with his previous marijuana and TSA legislation indicates the folly of underestimating his ability to advance radical legislation. Simpson’s marijuana bill was approved — after an amendment was made to retain marijuana restrictions for juveniles — by the committee of jurisdiction shortly before the legislative session ended. Though the marijuana bill did not pass during the most recent legislative session, the committee approval suggests the bill may pass next session. And Simpson’s TSA legislation passed in the state House and was poised to pass in the state Senate until the US government threatened to shut down all Texas airports if the bill become law.

Simpson makes the case for ending marriage licensing in a Thursday editorial “It’s time to divorce marriage from government,” in the Texas Tribune. Simpson’s editorial begins with the following:

It has been said that licensing is the process by which government takes away your freedom and then rents it back to you. Marriage has existed as long as human history. Marriage licensing, on the other hand, is a modern phenomenon. It is a government program that gives power to the few to control and subvert the liberties of others. In the past, it has been used as a weapon of racial segregation and cultural intolerance.

Now this weapon of intolerance has been turned against people of faith in the name of tolerance. I cannot imagine a more Orwellian perversion of freedom than to call force and submission tolerance. Yet that is where we are. This week, county clerks and state officials were given a difficult choice — follow the law or follow your most cherished beliefs.

Continue reading Simpson’s editorial here.

Ron Paul Institute Chairman and Founder Ron Paul commented regarding the Obergefell decision last week on his daily Ron Paul Liberty Report. Paul, a fellow Texan, is, like Simpson, critical of government-issued marriage licenses.


  • Adam Dick

    Adam worked from 2003 through 2013 as a legislative aide for Rep. Ron Paul. Previously, he was a member of the Wisconsin State Board of Elections, a co-manager of Ed Thompson's 2002 Wisconsin governor campaign, and a lawyer in New York and Connecticut.

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