A federal judge has given the state an Aug. 24 deadline to recognize same-sex marriages on death and birth certificates.
In a court order issued Tuesday, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia said Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton — who “is in the unique position to ensure the proper implementation of the law across all state agencies” — must also assure the court that the Department of State Health Services has granted any pending applications from same-sex couples for amended death and birth certificates before that deadline.
Garcia's order stemmed from a ruling last week in which the federal judge ordered state officials to recognize the same-sex marriage of Conroe resident John Stone-Hoskins by naming him as the surviving spouse on the death certificate of his late husband, James. The couple had wed in New Mexico last year, but Stone-Hoskins was not initially named on the death certificate because the state did not recognize same-sex marriages at the time.
At Garcia's directive, the state reissued the death certificate last week naming Stone-Hoskins as a surviving spouse of his husband, who died in January.
Paxton, who was facing possible contempt of court charges for the state's refusal to issue the license, vowed on Monday that the state would revise its policies within a week to allow all same-sex couples to obtain amended death and birth certificates.
During a Monday conference call, Paxton's office assured Garcia that "the state and its agencies will fully be in compliance" with the federal judge's July ruling prohibiting state officials from enforcing Texas' now-defunct ban on same-sex marriages. That order was issued shortly after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that states must recognize same-sex marriages.
Garcia postponed a contempt of court hearing, originally scheduled for Wednesday, for Paxton and Kirk Cole, interim commissioner of the state health department, until Sept. 10 to ensure the state has implemented its revised policies.