First Same-Sex Couple Married in Texas

Feb 19, 2015

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant were married Thursday morning in Austin. The county clerk issued the couple a marriage license based on a court order. Theirs is Texas' first same-sex marriage.

The order, the county clerk's office confirms, will only apply to this one couple, one of whom is "medically fragile." [See the judge's order here.]

KUT's Nathan Bernier spoke with Goodfriend and Bryant earlier this afternoon.

Update Friday 1:36 p.m. Texas Attorney General Paxton filed a petition asking the Texas Supreme Court to rule that the same-sex marriage license issued yesterday is void. 

Update 4:12 p.m. The Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton released a statement saying that the "same-sex marriage license issued by the Travis County Clerk is void, just as any license issued in violation of state law would be."

Update 2:59 p.m. The Texas Supreme Court issued two stay orders, one to prevent Travis County from issuing marriage licenses to other "medically fragile" same-sex couples and one to stay the probate judge's Tuesday declaration that the same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional. According to the couple's attorney, these rulings do not affect this morning's marriage, as nullifying it would require further action from the Attorney General.

Update 2:22 p.m. Gov. Greg Abbott released a statement. He says that the "Texas constitution defines marriage as consisting 'only of the union of one man and one woman'" and that he is committed to "ensuring that the Texas Constitution is upheld." Lt. Gov. Dan Patrick made a statement in support of Attorney General Paxton, saying that he "hope[s] the Texas Supreme Court will respond in a timely fashion in addressing General Paxton's appeals."

Update 1:14 p.m. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton filed an emergency motion with the Texas Supreme Court to halt the order that allowed Goodfriend and Bryant to marry. Read the official attorney general press release here.

Update 11 a.m. "I am happily following the court order, but the court order only applies to this one couple," Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir tells Texas Standard. "And it is based on the idea that there are circumstances with this couple…one of them is medically fragile and they may not survive the wait on what the courts are going to rule in the future as a final decision about gay marriage."

Listen to her full comments to Texas Standard in the audio player below.

The couple holds their marriage certificate.
Credit Courtesy of Goodfriend and Bryant

Texas' statewide ban on issuing licenses to same-sex couples is still in effect, but since Goodfriend and Bryant were able to get one, the question is when and if other couples will be able to do the same.

"I guess you could go to the clerk and say 'Hey, it's already been held unconstitutional by two judges now, you should give this to me,'" says Alex Albright, a Senior Lecturer at UT Law School. "But a clerk might be a little worried about doing that, because it could be held in violation of Texas law. So if they refuse to give it, then another couple could file basically the same petition and get another order requiring it. I think at some point somebody says 'It's all constitutional.'"

The 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, which handles Texas cases, is in the midst of deliberating DeLeon v. Perry, a federal case challenging the statewide ban. The three-judge panel heard oral arguments in January.

Bryant and Goodfriend filed a petition against Debeauvoir based on an order handed down Tuesday by probate Judge Guy Herman that declared Texas' gay marriage ban unconstitutional. Judge David Wahlberg ordered today in favor of the couple's petition, which asked Debeauvoir to issue a them a license.