With the Supreme Court expected to decide on the freedom to marry by the end of June, Dana DeBeauvoir, Travis County Clerk, announced contingent preparations for issuing same-sex marriage licenses to Texans on Tuesday.
If SCOTUS rules in favor of gay marriage, Travis County Attorney David Escamilla will review the opinion of the court. Once his review is completed, the plan DeBeauvoir’s office recently outlined will take immediate effect.
Included in the plans are extended operating hours and additional spaces in the clerk’s office to aid in what county officials are predicting will be same-sex couples statewide traveling to receive a license for marriage.
DeBeauvoir stated, “We’re hoping for crowds.”
February 2014 saw the first gay marriage in Texas history, as reported by Breitbart Texas:
The first gay marriage in Texas history happened in Austin on Thursday afternoon. Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant, both of Austin, went to the Travis County Clerk immediately after obtaining a court order in their favor, obtained a license, and were married. Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed a Emergency Motion for Temporary Relief with the Texas Supreme Court, arguing that the rulings from the Travis County Courts were incorrect and seeking to stop any additional same sex marriages from taking place.
According to a report by Texas Lawyer, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman issued an order on Tuesday that found the state’s ban on gay marriage unconstitutional because it violated due process and equal protection. After that ruling, 126th District Judge David Wahlberg of Austin issued a separate ruling on Thursday, ordering the Travis County Clerk to honor Goodfriend and Bryant’s request for a marriage license.
Despite the excitement and optimistic remarks from those in support of same-sex marriage, Attorney General Ken Paxton, Lt. Governor Dan Patrick, and Governor Greg Abbott have all confidently expressed their opposition to the measure.
As previously reported by Breitbart Texas’ Merrill Hope:
In a statement obtained by Breitbart Texas, Paxton said, “The Court’s action upholds our state constitution and stays these rulings by activist judges in Travis County. 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. I will continue to defend the will of the people of Texas, who have defined marriage as between one man and one woman, against any judicial activism or overreach.”
“Article 1, Section 32 of the Texas Constitution defines marriage as consisting ‘only of the union of one man and one woman’ and was approved by more than three-quarters of Texas voters,” said Governor Greg Abbott in a statement also in response to the actions by the Travis County judges. Abbott added that he, too, is committed to “ensuring that the Texas Constitution is upheld and that the rule of law is maintained in the State of Texas.”
Lt. Governor Dan Patrick’s beliefs:
“Whether it is the President of the United States who may disagree on illegal immigration or a District Judge in Travis County that may support gay marriage – the rule of law must be upheld,” Patrick stated. “The people of Texas have spoken on this issue approving Section 32, Article 1 of the Texas Constitution overwhelmingly by more than a 75% voter mandate in 2005. That amendment defines marriage as consisting ‘only of the union of one man and one woman.’”
The following October, the Supreme Court refused to hear the challenge to appellate court rulings that same-sex marriage bans were unconstitutional. In doing so, the number of states authorizing same-sex marriage expanded from 5 to 24. It was seen as a major move in the right direction by the LGBT community and other same-sex marriage supporters.
This past March, Breitbart News reported the surprising fact that over 300 members of the Republican Party asked SCOTUS to back same-sex marriage efforts, a move on their part to sway the decision that’s expected to be announced any day.
If SCOTUS overturns the ruling, then after Travis County officials determine the implications, the clerk will begin issuing licenses as quickly as possible. A 3-day waiting period is customary between the time a couple is given a license and when they can marry. However, a judge has the ability to waive the waiting period, and DeBeauvoir includes in her outline the easy and quick access couples will have to judges to speed their marriage process to a minimal amount of wait time.
Gay-rights advocates are also helping with the planning process. Advocates will be hosting a party and holding an event in downtown Austin where couples can tie the knot, assuming the Supreme Court’s decision allows.
As reported by the Austin-American Statesman, Nick Hudson, Director of Texas for Marriage, claimed, “We will gather whether or not couples can get married,” but hopes as many weddings as possible will be celebrated.