Second County Clerk Steps Down Over Gay Marriage


A second Texas county clerk has decided to step down rather than issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Last week, Rusk County Clerk Joyce Lewis-Kugle announced her resignation, saying she could no longer fulfill her oath to uphold state and federal law due to the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in favor of same-sex marriage.

Today, the Observer confirmed that Live Oak County Clerk Karen Irving has opted to retire for the same reason.

“Due to the latest Supreme Court decision which is contrary to my personal beliefs, I cannot uphold the oath which I made when I took office,” Irving wrote in an email to other county clerks across the state on Monday.

Nineteen days after the high court’s ruling, Live Oak County—situated between San Antonio and Corpus Christi and home to 12,000 people—hasn’t issued any marriage licenses to same-sex couples.

Irving, whose last day is today, told the Observer her office has been waiting on technical updates but should be prepared to serve same-sex couples later this week.

“We’ll be up and ready to go tomorrow afternoon and for sure on Friday, unless there’s a glitch with the vendor, but I don’t think there will be,” she said.

Irving declined to further discuss her views on same-sex marriage.

“I’m of age, and I’m retiring,” she said. “It’s been a long journey, and I’m excited.”

Irving has worked in the clerk’s office for 23 years. She’s been clerk since 2003.

Live Oak County Clerk Karen Irving
Live Oak County Clerk Karen Irving

Equality Texas spokesman Daniel Williams said he has the utmost respect for county clerks who step down because they can’t perform their jobs while following the tenets of their faith.

“I think they should be applauded for doing exactly what we want our government officials to do, which is to put the public before their own interests,” Williams said. “That is a triumph of democracy.”

Williams also said he’s pleased with Texas county clerks’ overall response to the high court’s ruling. As of today, clerks in only two of the state’s 254 counties have indicated they’ll refuse to issue marriages licenses to same-sex couples. A handful of others said they’re still waiting on technical updates.

“Obviously it wouldn’t be possible to have no hiccups whatsoever,” Williams said.