Supreme Court upholds same-sex marriage as a right

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5-4 ruling dismantles 13 state prohibitions, including Texas'

Photo Credit: Tess Cagle | Daily Texan Staff

This story is developing, and we will post updates in this article as they occur.

Update (11:02 p.m.): Thousands of people gathered on Fourth Street on Friday evening to celebrate the U.S. Supreme Court same-sex marriage decision.

The Austin Police Department blocked off Fourth Street from traffic in anticipation of the crowds gathering after the announcement of the Supreme Court’s decision.

Austin police chief Art Acevedo said when he saw news this morning, the only thing he thought about was closing this section down.

“It is a great day to celebrate love and commitment,” Acevedo said. “That is something we should all have and that is something we all have today. This street is your’s all night, enjoy it.”    

Suzanne Bryant (left) and Sarah Goodfriend, the first same-sex couple to marry in Texas, celebrate with a large crowd at a "Texas for Marriage" celebration at Central Presbyterian Church on Friday evening. Tess Cagle | Daily Texan Staff

Political figures such as Rep.Celia Israel (D-Austin) and Mayor Steve Adler and Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) made appearances on Fourth Street after speaking at the Central Presbyterian Church.

After hearing the news, Israel said she was relieved by the Supreme Court’s ruling in favor same-sex marriage.

“Today is a really special day to be an American,” Israel said. “I don’t know about you, but my heart was full after the Supreme Court’s decision and hearing what President Obama had to say.”

Israel said while this is a great moment, she will have to continue fighting for the community in the legislature, but individuals must keep voting and pushing for changes to occur.

A newly married couple, Darin Upchurch and Ted Burton, said they headed to Fourth Street to share their excitement over their marriage.

“I married my love, my best friend and I never thought it would happen in my hometown — my home state,” Burton said. “Texas, f*ck you! We are married!”

Adler said this is a special day that address equality and fundamental rights.

“Today is about equality, about liberty and fundamental rights,” Adler says. “In the end, love wins. I just had the extreme pleasure down at the church of reading aloud a proclamation declaring today as Marriage Equality Day in Austin.”

Watson said he shares Adler’s feelings about the significance of the Supreme Court’s decision.

“Just like the mayor, I am so pleased that I get to serve and get to live in a place that knows how to embrace each other, knows how to love each other and can marry the people they love,” Watson said.    

Sen. Kirk Watson (D-Austin) speaks to a crowd at a "Texas for Marriage" celebration held at Central Presbyterian Church on Friday evening. Tess Cagle | Daily Texan Staff

Update (10:27 p.m.): The Travis County Clerk’s office announced they issued 313 marriage licenses Friday, to both different and same-sex couples. Many people also requested forms to waive the typical 72-hour waiting period between receiving a marriage license and being able to wed.

At the Travis County courthouse, ministers crowded the hallways waiting to marry couples. Some were married by the judges in their offices. But other couples grabbed their licenses and headed to churches for impromptu ceremonies.

Jelka Jonker and Lainey Rathgeber married at the Metropolitan Community Church in a ceremony officiated by their pastor Jim Rigby of St. Andrew’s Presbyterian, whom they called before driving to the Travis County Clerk’s office in rush hour traffic. Rathgeber said they both were ready to hear the decision this morning, and kept Rigby on hold.

Daulton Venglar | Daily Texan Staff

Rathgeber teaches tennis to children and Jonker works at the Disability Determination Services office, but both were distracted when the news broke of the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision.

“I got the text from my neighbor,” Jonker said. “I wanted to be careful. I'm a manager there, but I couldn't concentrate anymore. I told my boss I had to go because I was going to get married today.”

The couple married first in 2004 in Austin in a ceremony not legally recognized by the state of Texas. They married legally 2011 in the Netherlands. And today was marriage number three, Rathgeber said.

“Third time's the charm,” Rathgeber said. “This one is legal.”

Travis County remains the only county in Central Texas to issue same-sex marriage licenses. Bexar, Dallas, El Paso, Harris, Hidalgo, McLennan, Midland and Tarrant also began issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples Friday.

Update (6:10 p.m.): Williamson County, which is located just north of Austin and encompasses Round Rock and Georgetown, will not be issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples today, according to a joint statement from the Williamson County Attorney’s Office and the Williamson County Clerk’s Office.

“The County Clerk’s Office will wait for the County Attorney’s Office to complete its review of the Court’s written opinion before deciding the appropriate course of action in regard to issuing marriage licenses for same-sex couples,” the statement says.

Update (3:15 p.m.): The Travis County Clerk's Office said they have issued 54 marriage licenses to different and same gendered couples as of noon today, with 12 couples waiting to file necessary paperwork. In comparison, the office issued 17 licenses yesterday.

“This is an historic day for the people of Travis County, and I am delighted my office is able to issue licenses speedily and efficiently to those eligible couples desiring them,” Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said.

The University's Center for Women & Gender Studies said they celebrate the Supreme Court's decision, particularly Justice Anthony Kennedy's concurring opinion that same-sex couples "ask for equal dignity in the eyes of the law. The Constitution grants them that right."

"[This is] a victory for all those who have struggled for so long for the simple right to love whom they choose and for that love to be held in the same dignity and respect as heterosexual marriage," Center Director Susan Sage Heinzelman said in an email.

Rep. Sarah Davis (R-Houston) also expressed gratitude toward the Supreme Court's ruling, one of the only Republican state leaders to do so.

"Marriage is a union in which two loving people commit to affirm, love and uphold one another, in any and all conditions," Davis said in a statement.  "As such, marriage is not defined by a person’s sexual orientation, but their willingness to make that vow. Any American, of any orientation, should not be denied that right."

Update (3:00 p.m.):

Check out our slideshow from the Travis County Clerk's Office this morning, where many same-sex couples applied for their marriage licenses.

If you are viewing this article on a mobile device, the slideshow above may not display properly. To see it, click here.

Update (12:15 p.m.): Neal Falgoust, Austin attorney and a member of the LGBT community, said he was surprised to see this happen today.  Falgoust said because the Supreme Court addressed this issue, it was a huge victory because it addressed marriage from another state.

“The court didn’t really have to address the full faith and credit issue — that was sort of icing on the the wedding cake,” Falgoust said.  “The community thought it would go our way on the Fourteenth Amendment, but the 'full faith and credit' question is very good because we don’t have to go and redo any licenses that were done out of state.”

Ronald Morgan, chief deputy clerk of Travis County, said although their offices close at 5 p.m. today, they are working to extend hours for this historic occasion.

“We understand there have been waiting for this day for the better part of their lives,” Morgan said.  “As long as someone is in our office or line by 6:30 [p.m.], we will be more than happy to serve them.”

Morgan said they will reopen at 8 a.m. Monday and the office will continue the policy of serving those who are in line by 6:30 p.m.  The Travis County Clerk’s Office will also be open Friday despite it being a holiday because of Fourth of July weekend. Morgan said their office hours are usually from 8 a.m to 5 p.m. but from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m. July 5.   

Update (10:45 a.m.): The Supreme Court held that the Fourteenth Amendment, which guarantees equal protection under the law, applies to marriage as well. It mandated states to issue marriage licenses to same-sex couples as well as recognize same-sex marriages if the couple married outside the state.

The decision reversed the order of the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals, which decided Ohio’s ban in Obergefell v. Hodges was not unconstitutional November 6, 2014. The same-sex couples of the case filed a petition for judicial review eight days later with the Supreme Court.

Other political leaders also weighed in on the Supreme Court’s ruling on same-sex marriage. Former Florida Governor Jeb Bush, who is running for president in 2016, released a statement Friday expressing his disappointment in the ruling but also a wish to compromise.

“Guided by my faith, I believe in traditional marriage,” Bush said. “I believe the Supreme Court should have let the states make this decision. I also believe we should love our neighbor and respect others, including those making lifetime commitments. In a country as diverse as ours, good people with opposing views should be able to live side by side. It is now crucial that as a country we protect religious freedoms and the right of conscience and also not discriminate.” 

Former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who is also running for president, posted on Twitter, “Proud to celebrate a historic victory for marriage equality—& the courage & determination of LGBT Americans who made it possible. -H.” She also changed her presidential campaign symbol to a rainbow striped 'H.'

 

Update (10:30 a.m.): Morgan said they will be issuing licenses at 10:30 a.m. Although the clerk's office closes at 5 p.m., Morgan said they would be issuing licenses so long as people are in line by 6:30 p.m.

The office has announced extended hours next week to accomodate people seeking licenses. 

Original story: Early Friday morning, the Supreme Court ruled same-sex marriage is a right upheld by the Constitution in a 5–4 decision. 

The court addressed states’ rights in banning same-sex marriage as well as mandating states to recognize marriage between partners of the same sex.

The Supreme Court ruling dismantled the prohibitions of same-sex marriage in 13 states, including Texas.

Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir said in a statement Friday that her office and the Travis County Attorney’s Office will be reviewing the legal implications of the Supreme Court’s ruling before issuing any marriage licenses.

“I expect to be advised by the County Attorney as soon as possible. We want to be confident that any action taken by the County Clerk’s Office will comport with the law, and this review is essential to ensure any license we issue is unassailable.” DeBeauvoir said.

Texas already had one same-sex marriage on the books before the court’s ruling Friday. Suzanne Bryant and Sarah Goodfriend married February 19 in Austin. District judge David Wahlberg directed DeBeauvoir to issue a marriage license for the couple after Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman ruled same-sex marriage unconstitutional two days before.

Although Attorney General Ken Paxton attempted to void their marriage, Bryant and Goodfriend’s marriage license is still legally binding in the state. Paxton halted issuances of more same-sex marriage licenses after theirs but could not void their marriage license. Paxton asked county clerks to ignore the Supreme Court’s ruling and wait for his office to approve the issuance of same-sex marriage licenses.

“I remain prayerful that the Court will heed millennia of family tradition, Judeo-Christian instruction and common sense and will respect the role of states," Paxton said in a statement Thursday. "But whatever the ruling, I would recommend that all County Clerks and Justices of the Peace wait for direction and clarity from this office about the meaning of the Court's opinion and the rights of Texans under the law."