First Same-Sex Couple In Texas Gets Married

Sarah GoodfriendSuzanne BryantToday, February 19, the first same-sex couple in Texas was issued a marriage license in Austin. 

Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant requested a marriage license today at the Travis County courthouse after State Judge David Wahlberg ordered Travis County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir to do so. Judge Wahlberg also ordered the county clerk to waive the 72-hour waiting period for a marriage license.

This exciting news follows an order on Tuesday from State Judge Guy Herman in which he struck down Texas' ban on marriage between same-sex couples. 

This ruling was in the case 
Estate of Stella Marie Powell, which was brought by private lawyer Brian Thompson, who filed a case on behalf of Sonemaly Phrasavath’s marriage to her late partner, Stella Powell. The case is seeking respect as Stella’s spouse for the purpose of fulfilling Stella’s will.

Read Sonemaly and Stella’s story here.

The county clerk confirmed on Thursday that, because the order is limited to just this couple, Travis County will not be issuing marriage licenses to any other same-sex couples at this time.

Sarah Goodfriend explained why it was so important for the couple to be married:

I want to finally be able to marry the love of my life. In May, I was diagnosed with ovarian cancer and was rushed into emergency surgery. Having faced a life threatening disease I realized time is precious and that I wanted to spend it on the things that mattered most - my family. I didn't want Suzanne to have to fight for the legitimacy of our relationship like Sonemaly did in Stella's estate hearing. We have children together (Dawn and Ting) a home, lives we've built together, and I want to finally have our loving relationship of 30-plus-years be recognized.

Judge Wahlberg's order reads:

The Court finds that unless the Court immediately issues a Temporary Restraining Order, the unconstitutional denial of a marriage license to Plaintiffs will cause immediate and erreparable damage to Plaintiffs, based solely on their status as a same-sex couple. ... Based on the Plaintiff's sworn pleading regarding the severity and uncertainty of Plaintiff Goodfriend's health condition, the Court finds that Plaintiff Goodfriend's health condition strongly militates in favor of issuing immediate relief, before a hearing can be held on Plaintiffs' request for temporary injunction and before a final trial on the merits of permanent injunctive relief.

Evan Wolfson, president and founder of Freedom to Marry, emphasized the importance of today's actions in Travis County:

This is a historic day for fairness and equality in Texas. The family that Suzanne and Sarah have built together over more than three decades of commitment to each other mirrors the love between so many same-sex couples in Texas, all of whom deserve the freedom to marry. The 5th Circuit should quickly affirm Texas’ lower court rulings and ensure the freedom to marry across the Lone Star State.

Update: This afternoon, the Texas Supreme Court placed a stay on the previous decision, meaning that no new marriages between same-sex couples will take place in Texas for now. Freedom to Marry congratulates Sarah and Suzanne on their marriage, and looks forward to the day when all loving, committed couples in Austin, Texas, and the nation can get married.

Sarah and Suzanne 2

Sarah and Suzanne 3

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Watch the video of when this couple learned that the marriage ban was struck down as unconstitutional last year: