Two Austin women were wed this morning outside the Travis County Clerk's Office, marking the first legal same-sex marriage to take place in Texas.
Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant held a rushed ceremony presided by Rabbi Kerry Baker after state District Judge David Wahlberg ordered Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to issue the couple a marriage license on Thursday morning.
A lawyer for Goodfriend and Bryant filed a petitioned Wahlberg to have the marriage license issued after a Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman ruled earlier this week that the Texas same-sex marriage ban is unconstitutional in an estate matter involving another Austin lesbian couple. Sonemaly Phrasavath, whose partner Stella Powell died of colon cancer, sought to have her 8-year relationship deemed a common law marriage. State Attorney General Ken Paxton asked the Texas Supreme Court on Wednesday to issue an emergency order to block Herman's ruling.
The petition to Wahlburg argued that Goodfriend and Bryant's inability to obtain a marriage license caused irreparable harm. Goodfriend was recently diagnosed with ovarian cancer. Wahlburg then ordered Dana DeBeauvoir to issue the license and waived the customary 72-hour waiting period, noting the urgency and circumstances of the case and the continuing violation of the plaintiffs' rights.
DeBeauvoir complied with the order, but emphasized that no additional marriage licenses would be issued to same-sex couples.
Paxton also filed an emergency motion to have the Texas Supreme Court stay Wahlburg's ruling, but the court did not rule before the ceremony took place.
Texas same-sex couples are awaiting a decision from the U.S. Fifth Circuit Court of Appeals regarding the state's marriage ban.
“There’s no good reason why every loving couple in Texas shouldn’t have access to the same opportunity to marry, and the time is ripe for the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 5th Circuit to issue its ruling,” said HRC Legal Director Sarah Warbelow said in a press release. “All couples in Texas, Louisiana and Mississippi, states covered by the 5th Circuit, should have access to marriage licenses as soon as possible. In light of recent events, we firmly believe that the Texas courts should not issue a stay in the case at hand.”
This summer, the U.S. Supreme Court is expected to rule on the constitutionality of same-sex marriage bans.