Texas Marriage Equality Update – February 20th

Written by scott on February 20th, 2015

Texas mapSo much going on in Texas after a Travis County judge overturned the state’s ban on marriage equality the other day.

First off, there was a legal same sex wedding in Austin.

On Top Magazine reports:

A lesbian couple together more than 30 years married Thursday in Texas. According to the Austin American-Statesman, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant exchanged vows outside the Travis County Clerk’s Office. The ceremony was presided over by Rabbi Kerry Baker. The women were denied a marriage license eight years ago.

The Dallas Voice has more on the couple:

Sarah Goodfriend is a unpaid policy advisor to Austin state Rep. Celia Israel. She advises primarily on environmental and energy issues. Suzanne Bryant is an attorney in private practice in Austin. The two have been a couple for 31 years, and they exchanged their wedding vows in front of the Travis County Clerk’s office this morning with Rabbi Kerry Baker officiating.

The Dallas Voice also points out that probate court rulings in the state only apply to a single county:

According to the Dallas County Clerk’s office, probate rulings do not carry from one county to another, so a ruling in Travis County earlier this week does not apply in Dallas… Dallas County Clerk John Warren has said he hoped to be the first county clerk to issue marriage licenses in the state. His office has advised that nothing would prevent a Dallas County couple from following the same path as Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant in Travis County and filing suit in probate court here. In this case, they’d have two Travis County opinions to cite in their petition to the court.

Meanwhile, Attorney general Ken Paxton blasted the judge’s ruling and asked the state Supreme Court to issue a stay.

Towleroad.com reports:

“Texas law is clear on the definition of marriage, and I will fight to protect this sacred institution and uphold the will of Texans, who voted overwhelmingly in favor of a constitutional amendment defining the union as between one man and one woman. The probate judge’s misguided ruling does not change Texas law or allow the issuance of a marriage license to anyone other than one man and one woman.”

The Supreme Court wasted no time in shutting things down, but avoided voiding the first wedding that took place.

The Dallas Voice reports:

The Texas Supreme Court has issued a stay in the marriage between a Travis County couple following Attorney General Ken Paxton’s appeal. The order can be found here. However, this order apparently does not void Sarah Goodfriend’s and Suzanne Bryant’s marriage. Barbara Rosenberg, an attorney who works in the Dallas City Attorney’s Office, said her understanding is that the ruling can only stop future licenses from being issued.

The AG is arguing that the wedding should be voided.

LGBTQ Nation reports:

Within hours, the Texas Supreme Court had blocked other gay couples from getting married under similar special exceptions – but didn’t address the women’s marriage, which Paxton said he considered void. But that remains in dispute, and Paxton’s spokeswoman, Cynthia Meyer, said their office will file additional paperwork with the state Supreme Court on Friday to argue their case. “Activist judges don’t change Texas law and we will continue to aggressively defend the laws of our state,” Paxton said in a statement.

In other state marriage equality news, the plaintiffs in a federal case are asking the court to lift a stay.

Equality on Trial reports:

In the Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals case DeLeon v. Perry, which has been submitted for decision since arguments have been heard, the plaintiffs are asking the appeals court to lift the stay, or at least to do so for the plaintiffs who have children. The state has filed its opposition, and they claim in part that even if the stay is lifted, the preliminary injunction wouldn’t affect the couple who wants their names listed on their child’s birth certificate.

And in Eastern Texas, other same sex couples celebrated the ruling, but were left waiting yet again.

KYTX reports:

It’s been back and forth all day between a Travis County clerk and the Texas Attorney General after the clerk issued the state’s first same sex marriage license. However, that one license doesn’t change the situation for many other same sex couples in Texas. Karen Wilkerson and her partner have been ready to get married for a year now in Tyler. “I can’t plan a wedding, I can’t send out invitations, I cant book a place for our reception, I can’t start talking to a travel agent to plan a honeymoon because I don’t know when the decision will come down to make it legal for me to marry,” Wilkerson said. She’s happy for Austin couple Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, but says unfortunately that won’t help her case.

The state Supreme Court has only issued a stay, and hasn’t ruled on the merits of the case. We’re also waiting to see what the Fifth Circuit does in regards to its stay.

Nevertheless, it’s a crack in the dam in texas.

Find more articles and gay wedding resources in Texas.

 

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