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The Brief: July 6, 2015

With same-sex marriage now legalized, conservative lawyers are beginning to prepare defenses for government employees who refuse to marry same-sex couples due to their religious objections.

Pamela Holwerds holds up her marriage license following the ceremony that married over 40 same-sex couples on the south lawn of the Texas Capitol in Austin on July 4, 2015.

The Big Conversation

With same-sex marriage now legalized, the next legal fight could be whether government employees have the freedom to refuse to marry same-sex couples — and the issue won't be solved quickly, legal experts say.

Attorney General Ken Paxton made his stance on the issue clear, saying government employees could refuse to issue same-sex marriage licenses if they have religious objections. Yet Paxton also warned employees that those actions could get them sued.

The Tribune's Alexa Ura has more on what's next:

Conservative attorneys are gearing up to defend such government employees, saying they are confident existing laws will ensure their religious freedom. The legal arguments they are likely to make are complex, legal experts say, and could test the courts’ capacity to balance gay rights and religious freedom. ...

County clerks, for example, must prove they are refusing to issue same-sex marriage licenses because doing so would violate a “sincerely held religious belief” — a legal standard courts are accustomed to considering, said Jeremy Dys, senior counsel at the Plano-based Liberty Institute, which specializes in religious freedom litigation. ...

Gay rights attorneys and civil rights groups like the American Civil Liberties Union agree that there is room for religious accommodations for government officials — so long as those accommodations do not discriminate against specific groups, like same-sex couples, by intentionally burdening them.

Trib Must-Reads

Analysis: Despite Ruling, Redistricting Reformers Pessimistic, by Ross Ramsey — The U.S. Supreme Court says it is constitutional to let nonlegislators draw the political maps from which legislators are elected. But that doesn't mean it's going to happen in Texas.

Cruz Boasts $51M War Chest After Raking in $10M, by Patrick Svitek — Ted Cruz said his campaign and the super PACs that support it raised about $10 million during the second quarter, bringing the total available to promote his campaign to $51 million.

Alamo and Other Texas Shrines Win UN Designation, by Liz Crampton — The Alamo and other historic shrines known as the San Antonio Missions have been added to a list of internationally recognized landmarks that includes the Taj Mahal and the Great Barrier Reef.

Amid Low Expectations, Perry Revels in Campaigning, by Abby Livingston — After years in the political wilderness, Rick Perry relied on his trademark swagger while campaigning on the Fourth of July weekend in southern New Hampshire.

New Hampshire Republicans Not Ruling Perry Out, by Abby Livingston — New Hampshire Republicans are showing up to hear Rick Perry's second presidential campaign pitch. But attendance isn’t commitment among New Hampshire’s high-maintenance, fickle electorate. 

Texas Hopes to Attract More Mental Health Care Workers, by Edgar Walters — Lawmakers this year created a program that will help pay mental health professionals’ student loans if they practice in a medically needy area. The loan forgiveness program seeks to alleviate the state’s shortage of mental health professionals, which watchdogs are calling a "public health emergency."

Patrick Dissolves Grassroots Advisory Board, by Emily Ramshaw — Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick is dissolving the grassroots advisory board he established in January, saying several of its members, including Tea Party organizer JoAnn Fleming, "expressed a desire for greater independence."  


Cruz, Huckabee go head-to-head for evangelical votes, The Associated Press

In New Hampshire, Perry says America’s best days (and his) lie ahead, Austin American-Statesman

Ted Cruz, Rick Perry tackle immigration, Donald Trump on Sunday shows, The Dallas Morning News

A Conservative Firebrand From The Start, Ted Cruz Always Had A Plan, NPR

Fikac: Abbott hit by both sides on gay marriage, San Antonio Express-News

Abbott appointees include big donors and no donors, San Antonio Express-News

Texas hold ’em — legal in Texas?, Fort Worth Star-Telegram

'Wrong side of history' or not, history shows Texas slow in social change, Lubbock Avalanche-Journal

U.S. gas heading for Mexico, The Dallas Morning News

The Divide: Income inequality in America's most economically segregated big city, Houston Chronicle

How San Antonio became ground zero in one of the biggest grocery wars in the country, San Antonio Express-News

Texans’ average home insurance premium increases 7% to 8%, The Dallas Morning News

Quote to Note

"I'm not interested in Republican-on-Republican violence.”

— U.S. Sen. Ted Cruz, refusing to criticize Donald Trump on NBC's Meet the Press

News From Home

•    During the 84th legislative session, lawmakers passed open carry and campus carry legislation and voted to make cannabis oil available to epilepsy patients. Find more details on these and other law and order issues on the Texas Legislative Guide.

Trib Events for the Calendar

•    The Texas Tribune Festival on Oct. 16-18 at the University of Texas at Austin

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