Ted Cruz backs county clerks denying marriage licenses to gay couples

Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, arrives for the Senate Republicans' lunch in the Capitol, May 13, 2015. (Photo By Bill Clark/CQ Roll Call/Getty)
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, arrives for the Senate Republicans' lunch in the Capitol, May 13, 2015. 

Sen. Ted Cruz is ready to rain on the parade of Texas citizens celebrating the Supreme Court decision on Friday to legalize same-sex marriage throughout the country.

On Saturday, the 2016 Republican presidential candidate said he "absolutely" believes that his state's country clerks should deny marriage licenses to same-sex couples if they have a religious objection, in an interview with The Texas Tribune.

"Ours is a country that was built by men and women fleeing religious oppression," Cruz told the newspaper, "and you look at the foundation of this country — it was to seek out a new land where anyone of us could worship the Lord God Almighty with all of our hearts, minds and souls, without government getting in the way."

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Cruz is not the first Republican presidential candidate to openly support officials defying the Supreme Court's ruling.

Mike Huckabee said in a statement on Friday: “I will not acquiesce to an imperial court any more than our founders acquiesced to an imperial British monarch. We must resist and reject judicial tyranny, not retreat." And Bobby Jindal went even further, suggesting that we may need to "get rid" of the Supreme Court in the wake of their decision.

Texas was quick to set in motion actions meant to undermine the ruling. Republican Gov. Greg Abbott issued an executive order to state agencies on Friday asking that they "prioritize compliance" with the state's "religious freedom" laws.

"The law protects religious liberty not only in houses of worship—but also in schools, in businesses, in the military, in public forums, and in the town square. These protections are afforded to all people, of all faiths," Abbott wrote. "Yet in the wake of the Supreme Court’s decision, the law’s promise of religious liberty will be tested by some who seek to silence and marginalize those whose conscience will not allow them to participate in or endorse marriages that are incompatible with their religious beliefs." 

The state currently allows members of the clergy to refuse to perform marriage ceremonies for gays and lesbians if they have a religious objection.

Meanwhile, Cruz has been on a tear on the topic, telling a Fox News interviewer that the Supreme Court decisions this past week on the Affordable Care Act and same-sex marriage constituted "some of the darkest 24 hours in our nation’s history.”

In his interview Saturday with The Texas Tribune, Cruz argued that "liberal intolerance" of his beliefs forced him to take his position on county clerks. "There’s no right in society to force a Jewish rabbi to perform a Christian wedding ceremony," Cruz told the paper. "There’s no right in society to force a Muslim imam to perform a Jewish wedding ceremony." 

He stopped short of calling on his state's legislature to get involved, telling the paper: "The last thing they need is a federal officeholder sticking his nose into matters of state legislation."