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First gay wedding celebrated in Texas

Friday, February 20, 2015 by Jo Clifton

Same-sex couples are allowed to marry in 37 states, but Texas is not one of them — except for one Austin couple, who wed Thursday morning under extraordinary circumstances. Following a ruling on Tuesday by Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman saying that Texas’ prohibition on gay marriage is unconstitutional, a Travis County couple who have been together for 31 years filed suit seeking an order that would allow them to marry. On Thursday, District Judge David Wahlberg heard the case and granted a temporary restraining order against Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir, which, in effect, ordered her to issue a marriage license to Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant. Because Goodfriend has been battling cancer and is considered to be in fragile health, Wahlberg ruled that the restraining order was the only option that would prevent “the damage and the continuing harm” that the state’s prohibition on same-sex marriage would remedy. The judge also granted a waiver of the normal 72-hour waiting period. The couple were married in a ceremony in front of the Travis County Clerk’s office shortly after receiving their license. At the same time, Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton was trying to prevent same-sex marriages. Paxton applied for and the Texas Supreme Court granted a request to stay the two court rulings that declared the law unconstitutional. Paxton asserts that the granted marriage license is void, but DeBeauvoir said, “I have every reason to believe that the actions I took this morning were legally correct based on the trial court’s order, and that the license my office issued was then and is now valid. There is no further action for me to take at this time.” Attorney Chuck Herring, a former chair of the Travis County Democratic Party, represented Goodfriend and Bryant. Last night, Democrats celebrated while Republicans gnashed their teeth over the Travis County rulings. It seems unlikely that there will be more same-sex marriages in Texas before June, when the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the issue. But we thought that yesterday also.

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