AUSTIN — A Dallas-area lawmaker wants Attorney General Ken Paxton’s opinion on whether state pension funds and other agencies acted lawlessly last month when they rushed to comply with the Supreme Court’s declaration of a right to same-sex marriage.

AUSTIN — A Dallas-area lawmaker wants Attorney General Ken Paxton’s opinion on whether state pension funds and other agencies acted lawlessly last month when they rushed to comply with the Supreme Court’s declaration of a right to same-sex marriage.


Rep. Dan Flynn, R-Van, has sent Paxton two letters in the last two weeks arguing that granting marriage licenses and spousal benefits to gay and lesbian couples is illegal because the Texas Legislature hasn’t changed state law’s definition of marriage as between a man and a woman.


"Absent action by the Legislature, any state agency or local political subdivision action to award marriage or any other benefit arising under Texas law to same-sex couples is invalid," Flynn said in his request for an attorney general’s opinion.


Although Paxton’s opinion would be nonbinding, a spokesman for a group that supports gay marriage said it could cause mischief.


"This gives him one more opportunity to play politics with something that should be settled now," said Dan Quinn of the Texas Freedom Network, which for two decades has battled Christian conservatives on textbooks and church-and-state issues.


"It’ll be another black eye for Texas if he comes out and says the state has wiggle room on these marriages," Quinn said of Paxton. "At some point, you reach the point of embarrassment."


A Paxton spokeswoman dismissed Quinn’s dig.


"While some may want to pre-judge the attorney general, we will base our opinion on the law," said Paxton aide Allison Castle.


Flynn is seeking an eighth term in the House next year.


Chief author of a bill this year that boosted the solvency of the Employees Retirement System, he criticized the way the pension fund, the state’s flagship university systems and the state health department’s vital-statistics officials "raced to implement same-sex marriage."


"Texas law remains unchanged," Flynn said.


He argued that until state lawmakers relent and change Texas marriage laws, pension fund managers and other state and local officials have no authority to confer benefits and marriage licenses on same-sex couples.


Quinn responded, "I can’t imagine there’s any legal answer other than we have to obey."


Still, he said Paxton probably will weigh in and possibly could intimidate bureaucrats. That would lead to lawsuits and delays of spousal benefits, Quinn said.


"That worries me," he said.


Follow Robert T. Garrett on Twitter at @RobertTGarrett.


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