Not unsurprisingly, Texas has an overabundance of bureaucratic, passive-aggressive and homophobic county clerks. Last week, we told you the saga of Karen Wilkerson and Jolie Smith, a couple who decided to file a lawsuit after East Texas county clerk Karen Phillips refused to grant them a marriage license. (That lawsuit has since been dropped.)
Now, it’s the exact same story — and again in Texas — with gay couple Jim Cato and Joe Stapleton, who have been together for 27 years. Their request for a marriage license was denied by Hood County, Texas county clerk Katie Lang, who claimed her deeply religious beliefs forbid her… to do her job.
She assured the couple that someone else in the office could assist them, but she simply couldn’t find the necessary forms anywhere. When Jim and Joe told her they’d already downloaded, printed, and filed out the forms in her office, she still steadfastly refused to accept them.
Now Jim and Joe are showing up at the office every day, with a steadily growing media presence behind them. Even Anderson Cooper has taken notice:
It’s all gotten to be a bit much for poor Katie Lang, who went so far as to call the police in the hopes of getting the couple, reporters and photographers removed from her office.
Jim and Joe have now filed a federal lawsuit so they can marry.
Speaking to CBS, Jim said, “If her personal beliefs keep her from her duties as county clerk, then she should probably step out of her job. We’re not after her. We’re not after her job. We’re after equality.”
And after they let Katie Lang go, we hope the office finds a civil servant who’s genuinely civil.