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Friday, March 5, 2021

Tarrant among Texas counties granting licenses following marriage ruling

County clerks across Texas responding to the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision legalizing same-sex marriage are generally divided into two groups: those who plan to immediately begin issuing marriage licenses to gay couples, and others who want to hear from State Attorney General Ken Paxton on how to proceed. 

Less than an hour after the decision was announced, Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said the county attorney had reviewed the ruling and her office would begin issuing marriage licenses Friday morning. 

“This is a joyous day, I am delighted for all couples who wish to be legally married in Texas,” DeBeauvoir said in a statement. 

More than 25 same-sex couples lined up in the Travis County clerk’s office after the decision was announced. Jacque Roberts and Carmelita Cabello were among the first couples to receive a marriage license. 

“I’m still shaking,” said Roberts, 60. “I’ve been shaking since the order came down.” 

Roberts and Cabello, who have been together 31 years, said they were grateful same-sex marriage was legalized in Texas in their lifetime. 

“It was important for us to do this in Texas because Texas is our birth state,” said Cabello, 68. “We wanted Texas to recognize us.” 

Tarrant, Bexar, El Paso and Midland counties also began granting licenses Friday morning. Officials from their offices said they will use the old marriage forms that list “man” and “woman” as applicants until Paxton’s office releases a new form. 

Bexar County Clerk Gerry Rickhoff said last week he expects his office to stay open for additional hours to handle demand. 

“We’re going to embrace it and stay open late until everybody who desires processing is processed,” Rickhoff said last week. “I think it’s very hard to predict what the demand might be. There are some counties I think are going to resist the change. The message is that everybody is welcome to Bexar County.” 

Officials in Dallas County have said they will start handing out applications straightaway, and plan to offer extended hours if needed. 

Harris County Clerk Stan Stanart said Friday that his office was waiting to receive new marriage forms from Paxton’s office before it would begin granting licenses. 

“Our marriage application form is published by the State of Texas and we have to use the most recent form they produce,” read a statement from the Harris County clerk’s office. 

Paxton released a statement Thursday saying he recommends that all county clerks wait for his directive after he reviews the ruling. 

Paxton’s office said he would issue guidance to county clerks on Friday afternoon. 

“To be clear — the law in the state of Texas is that marriage is one man and one woman, and the position of this office is that the United States Constitution clearly does not speak to any right to marriage other than one man and one woman and that the First Amendment clearly protects religious liberty and the right to believe in traditional marriage without facing discrimination,” Paxton wrote. 

Reporter Sophia Bollag contributed to this story. 

This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at http://www.texastribune.org/2015/06/26/counties-plan-varied-responses-marriage-ruling/.

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