Some East Texas justices of the peace to stop performing weddings

Published: Jul. 2, 2015 at 2:14 AM CDT|Updated: Aug. 18, 2015 at 2:01 AM CDT
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Judge Quincy Beavers, Justice of the Peace in Smith Co. (Source: KLTV staff)
Judge Quincy Beavers, Justice of the Peace in Smith Co. (Source: KLTV staff)
Affordability and quick scheduling make courthouse weddings attractive to some. (Source: KLTV...
Affordability and quick scheduling make courthouse weddings attractive to some. (Source: KLTV staff)
After Friday's Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, several East Texas justices of the peace say they have decided to stop performing weddings. 
This could affect accessibility for any couple seeking to tie the knot at the courthouse.  
Affordability and easy scheduling make a wedding officiated by a justice of the peace attractive to some, said Smith County Precinct 1 Justice of the Peace Quincy Beavers, Jr. 

SMITH COUNTY, TX (KLTV) - "Instead of having a big wedding, some individuals say to me 'Let's go to the justice of the peace, I can save some money,'" Beavers said. "Some of them come in their wedding dress and their  tuxedo and sometimes I have over 50 individuals [in attendance]."

Another Smith County justice of the peace, James Meredith of Precinct 3, said in a written statement:

I will no longer perform weddings after I conduct the few weddings I already had scheduled before the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling.

Justice of the Peace Paula Dyke in Titus County also said in a written statement on the same date as the Supreme Court decision:

A Justice of the Peace has no obligation under Texas law, or any other law, to perform wedding ceremonies.  Marriage ceremonies are not a statutory duty. Upon announcement of the Supreme Court's opinion in Obergefell v. Hodges on June 26, 2014 [sic], I have decided to immediately stop performing ALL marriage ceremonies.  God Bless America, and America Bless God!

Judge Beavers said some of his fellow justices have religious conflicts with performing marriage ceremonies.  However, he said he will continue to perform marriage ceremonies for anyone with a license from the clerk.

My belief is [same-sex couples] are citizens of Smith County, and the Supreme Court made a ruling," Beavers said. "As a justice court and as a judge we go by the rule of the highest court in the land and as you know the justice of the peace is the lowest court."

For those that are refusing to perform marriages, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton argues in his June 28 opinion that officials are not required by Texas law to oversee marriage vows.

"The only statutory restriction on their authority is that they are 'prohibited from discriminating on the basis of race, religion, or national origin against an applicant who is otherwise competent to be married,'" Paxton's opinion reads.

Despite the decisions by some local officials to put an end to courthouse marriage ceremonies, Beavers said he does not expect this to have a significant impact on JP weddings in Smith County.

"Even if there are some that will no longer do weddings, there are five justices," Beavers said. "So out of that five, there should be some judge that will perform the wedding."

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