After SCOTUS Ruling, Same-Sex Couples Line Up for Licenses in Travis County
*This developing story will be updated.
The U.S. Supreme Court ruled today in the case of Obergefell v Hodges that state bans on same-sex marriage, like the one in Texas, are unconstitutional [read the decision here]. County clerks in all 50 states can now issue marriage licenses.
Update 12:30 p.m. From the Travis County Clerk's office:
As of noon today, the Travis County Clerk’s office has issued 54 marriage licenses to different and same gender couples with 12 couples waiting to fill out the paperwork. In comparison, the Clerk’s office issued 17 marriage licenses yesterday.
Texas Governor Greg Abbott released a memo today reminding state agency heads to "respect and preserve Texans' religious liberties and First Amendment rights."
Earlier: The Travis County Clerk's office said in a release this morning that it will begin issuing licenses today to same-sex couples, and they will issue licenses to anyone lined up by 6:30 p.m. If you want to apply for a marriage license in Travis County today, find more information here.
They'll reopen Monday at 8 a.m. and will be open 8 a.m. to 6:30 p.m. all days next week. They'll also be open July 4 weekend.
County Clerk Dana DeBeauvior says that this is "a joyous day." At the clerk's office, one couple, Sanaz Faili and Marti Bier, were first in line this morning.
No one has been issued a license yet at Travis County, though couples are lining up, waiting for an announcement which officials say is forthcoming.
No one was lining up at the Williamson County Clerk's office this morning. There was a sign affixed to the front door:
The Bastrop and Blanco County Clerks' Offices have said that they will wait until they hear from the state Attorney General before they begin to issue licenses to same-sex couples; they are still issuing male-female marriage licenses.
Bexar County is issuing licenses today.
Big cheer goes up. Licenses now being issued to same sex couples at the Bexar County Clerk's office— Michael Marks (@michaelpmarks) June 26, 2015
Original post: Justice Anthony M. Kennedy wrote the majority opinion in the 5 to 4 decision.
The Court had two questions to answer: Whether state bans on same-sex marriage are constitutional, and whether states with bans must still recognize same-sex marriages that were performed in states where they're allowed. Today's decision means that states cannot ban same-sex marriages and that marriages from any other state must be recognized by all 50 states.
Cleopatra De Leon and Nicole Dimetman were married in Massachusetts. Texas didn't recognize their marriage as official — until today. U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia in San Antonio had already ruled that the Texas gay marriage ban is unconstitutional.
But he delayed implementing his decision while the legal process continued — until today, when SCOTUS announced its ruling.
That made Attorney Neel Lane happy.
"...and therefore as of right now officials in Texas are enjoined from enforcing restrictions on same-sex marriage in the state of Texas. And they will do so at their peril," Lane says.
Lane is the attorney for two plaintiffs in the case that led to Garcia’s decision. Texas appealed that decision to the Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals – a federal appellate court. The Fifth Circuit hadn’t ruled before today’s Supreme Court decision. Lane says the court probably will decide the case, but he expects their ruling to be guided by today’s Supreme Court ruling.
Today, De Leon and Dimetman are officially married Texans. "We've always been married. That's how I felt the whole time. And the Supreme Court just now said, 'You know what, Texas, you're gonna have to recognize it whether you like it or not," De Leon says.
Another couple, Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend, was allowed to marry in Travis County in February. That allowance came in the form of an order from a judge who said the couple could obtain a marriage license, as one of the two women had a terminal cancer. The special circumstances allowed that one license to be issued, but no more.
Lawmakers and government officials are all releasing statements this morning. Texas Sen. Rodney Ellis (D-Houston) says that he's "elated" about the decision.
"No longer will they be considered second-class citizens, unable to marry the person they love. This sends a strong message to the world that equality under the law is one of the guiding principles of our nation's Constitution," Ellis says.