Bud Kennedy
County clerk needs a lesson on freedom

Fort Worth Star-Telegram,
Sunday, July 5, 2015
Bud Kennedy bud@star-telegram.com
In my opinion > Hood paper says gay marriage issue was bungled.

     Always proud of its cowboy legacy, Granbury now must live up to the Code of the West.
     The "cowboy way" includes both hospitality and respecting others’ privacy — particularly in matters of relationships and faith.
     Nobody ever asked who a cowhand was "seeing," or if that might be a sin.
     That proud cowboy tradition of liberty and privacy remains alive in Texas today, and that helps explain some low-key responses to the Supreme Court ruling that couples of any gender have the same legal right to marry.
     Take Palo Pinto County Clerk Janette Green. In that county west of Mineral Wells, she told the Index she’d license any couple.
     "I took an oath of office to follow the law," she said, without subjecting that to "my own personal values."
     On the other hand, take Hood County Clerk Katie Lang, who first claimed a religious objection for her whole office and refused, then said it would take three weeks to update forms or software.
     According to the Hood County News, Lang ordered patrons and reporters to leave the public area of the taxpayer-funded clerk’s office Thursday when two Hood County men peacefully tried to apply for a license. One of Lang’s staffers tried to collect business cards and names.
     If you expected the hometown paper to side with the clerk, a Tea Party newcomer who upset incumbent Mary Burnett in 2014 — well, surprise.
     The current editorial is headlined: "Lang blaming all except herself — County clerk’s handling of same-sex marriage an embarrassment."
     "Our county clerk was all over the news," the editors wrote, "and not in a good way."
     The editorial said she "completely bungled" both the licenses and her disingenuous explanation that reporters "misreported and misconstrued" her comments.
     I have a copy of Lang’s email telling her staff, "I am instilling my religious liberty in this office."
     That is not easily misconstrued.
     Lang and her backers are taking the curious position that imposing her personal faith on everyone else in her office, her patrons and Hood County’s taxpayers is somehow her own "religious freedom."
     That is not what I call freedom.
     It’s definitely not the way of the West.
     Bud Kennedy’s column appears Sundays, Wednesdays and Fridays. 817-390-7538
     Twitter: @BudKennedy
Note from Pat: According to Hood County News, A federal lawsuit was filed electronically early Monday morning (July 6) against County Clerk Katie Lang on behalf of two men who were denied a marriage license, even though the Supreme Court has struck down a ban on gay marriages. An interesting side light of this fiasco is that the county clerk's husband, a former constable, is now running for the office of Texas State Representative. Could this be a campaign ploy to gain publicity for the candidate?

A later bulletin from HCN said the clerk did an about face on the issue after the suit was filed. Should we have to file suit on our elected officials to get them to do their jobs?