Article Lead Image

Zach Lipton/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Texas issues first-ever marriage license to a gay couple

Texas law be damned.


Dell Cameron


Posted on Feb 19, 2015   Updated on May 29, 2021, 12:10 pm CDT

A gay couple from Texas managed to get hitched on Thursday despite a ban on same-sex marriage in the Lone Star State.

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant became the first lawfully married same-sex couple in Texas in a ceremony presided over by a rabbi. Officials issued the license under a one-time court order due to medical reasons affecting the couple.

According to Travis County Clerk Dana Debeauvoir, one of the women “has severe and immediate health concerns.”

Texas’s ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional in February 2014 by U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia. However, a preliminary injunction on his ruling keeps the ban in place pending an appeal.

“Without a rational relation to a legitimate governmental purpose, state-imposed inequality can find no refuge in our U.S. Constitution,” Garcia wrote.

Former Texas Governor Rick Perry, who once compared gay people to alcoholics, was adamantly opposed to the Garcia’s ruling at the time, citing Texas’s voter-approved ban on same-sex marriage.

“The 10th Amendment guarantees Texas voters the freedom to make these decisions,” Perry said, “and this is yet another attempt to achieve via the courts what couldn’t be achieved at the ballot box.” 

Unsurprisingly, then-Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott, who took over the governor’s office last month, appealed Garcia’s ruling in an effort to maintain the ban. “The ultimate decision about Texas law will be made by the Court of Appeals or the U.S. Supreme Court,” he said.

Republican State Sen. Charles Perry quickly opposed today’s issuance of the marriage license, in messages posted to Twitter and Facebook.

On Facebook, Sen. Perry’s comment was met with mixed reactions. While some thanked him for supporting traditional marriage, others weren’t so enthused.

“Gov. Wallace called,” one person said, likely referring to Alabama Governor George Wallace, who in 1963 called for “segregation forever” during his inaugural address. “He says maybe you should reconsider supporting a position that will soon be relegated to the dustbin of history.”

Update 5:30pm ET, Feb. 19: The Texas Supreme Court has issued an emergency order blocking gay couples from obtaining marriage licenses after the marriage on Thursday, the Washington Post reports. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton says he is seeking to void the marriage of the two women, one of whom has cancer.

“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,” Paxton said in a statement. “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.”

Photo by Zach Lipton/Flickr (CC BY 2.0)

Share this article
*First Published: Feb 19, 2015, 6:22 pm CST